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Parents' Guide to

The A Word

By Kari Croop, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Mature themes steer this autism drama into adult territory.

The A Word Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

Aha moments

I started watching this due to my teen daughter having autism. She was only diagnosed a couple of years ago, and although there are a lot of activities for asd kids and teens, I have been left a little floundering as a parent trying to understand the bigger picture. Half way through the first episode, so much started to make sense when the diagnosing doctor explained certain aspects of Joe's behaviour and how it impacts him, and how it 'protects' him from having to interact with others. I was able to put this into context with my own child, and after so much time, suddenly things that have worried me for a number of years, now all make sense. I can't believe after having seen a number of social workers/psychologists/paediatrician, it's a TV programme that has finally lit the way for me to move forward and address her underlying issues. I am SO grateful to this programme. For anyone who just wants to know whether this programme is suitable for family viewing, or for what aged kids, the Commonsense media review hasn't included the F word is used here and there, and there are sex scenes, but so far in episode 1 and 2, no nudity as such. I wouldn't be letting my kids watch it if they are under 15, and I wouldn't let my daughter watch it until she was at least 16.
age 13+

Well acted series in need of more fact-checking

This is an enjoyable series and the acting is superb. The characters are well-developed and interesting, the humour a good counterpoint to the often weighty issues. There is a lot of promise here. As someone who is #actuallyautistic and who co-parents an autistic child, I can add that a lot of the aspects of autism shown however, are extremely mild. There is little engagement with sensory issues or meltdowns, for example. We rarely or never see issues with toileting, feeding, sleeping, safety awareness, or touch. It would have been useful to see them attend a positive handling course for example, or being unable to get out the house for the entire weekend because of the issues incurred with shoes... The diagnosis process shown in this programme is laughable. The diagnosis process takes years, endless meetings, battles with rigid and needless bureaucracy and paperwork that leave no time for anything else. The extended network of this family is also unrelatable to a lot of SEN parents I know including myself, the isolation is very, very real. This series is remarkably kind towards the adults on the outside of this family - in reality, adults can be extremely ignorant and cruel towards children on the spectrum. Some abuse positions of power to discriminate against disabled children, because they are more concerned about appearances than compassion. And because of the above, I do welcome a show like this. Mild as it is, this could be a good start in encouraging those on the outside to practice empathy and compassion towards any who experience life differently to themselves. Autistic people and families have always been here and we always will. Meet us halfway.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (2 ):

Though it takes on a worthy topic, this uneven drama ultimately gets in its own way with too many subplots that divert attention from the most important thing: Joe's autism. And these side stories aren't even all that riveting -- in particular, the aftereffects of adultery as explored through Joe's estranged aunt (Vinette Robinson) and uncle (Greg McHugh), who have conveniently moved back into town, bringing all their problems with them -- not to mention the odd comic relief of Joe's grandfather (Christopher Eccleston), who takes singing lessons on the down-low while dodging the sexual advances of his teacher.

Vento's affecting portrayal of Joe and his parents' imperfect handling of his diagnosis should be enough to sustain our interest for an entire season. But all the extra stuff going on just feels like filler that pushes this potentially poignant drama a bit too far off the mark. In the end, the best thing about The A Word is its infectious soundtrack, which not only is flat-out great but also fitting, considering music is Joe's preferred way to express himself. In those moments, when the volume's turned up, we can most clearly hear his voice.

TV Details

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