Slightly self-indulgent post about doing a thing with Channel 4 once

Some of you may remember the initial publicity around what became Are You Autistic? – it made waves for all the wrong reasons. But when Ambitious about Autism’s Youth Council wrote to Channel 4 and Betty with our concerns, they really listened. They came to Ambitious to meet with us. They made massive changes to a planned programme that was virtually ready to go, at huge delay and cost, to get more autistic people front and centre. They took a chance on two autistic students with no media experience as presenters, for the sake of a more authentic autistic voice. They had draft scripts, but let us virtually re-write most of our lines. They actively encouraged me to throw in a dig at the extreme male brain theory in a show with Simon Baron-Cohen in it after I’d brought it up in conversation but said it was probably too awkward to mention on air. The end result was not perfect, but it was genuinely shaped by autistic people and ultimately helped a few people to get diagnosed, better manage their lives, find their autistic community.

Would those changes have happened under a privatised Channel 4, focused on profit margins rather than public service objectives, as is planned now? Maybe – I’m not a media expert, I still have no idea how much of this stuff works. But I’d rather we weren’t taking the risk.


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