The A WordWe can’t wait to watch the first episode of the brand new series of BBC’s The A Word, which airs tonight on BBC One at 9pm. This is just one of the prime time TV shows that The National Autistic Society has had the pleasure to be involved with.

The charity decided a few years ago that it was worth putting in the time and effort to work directly with people creating films, books and TV shows involving autism – particularly with companies developing factual or drama shows for TV. We know that some of the biggest leaps forward in public understanding of autism have happened because of films, books and TV shows. They reach millions of people in a way the charity can’t do on its own, and it’s worth us getting involved so we can do all we can to ensure they portray autism as accurately as possible. Our Too Much Information campaign aims to increase public understanding alongside this work and challenges myths, perceptions and stereotypes around autism.

We all know that this hasn’t always been the case. Until recently, too few portrayals of autistic people have presented them as rounded individuals or reflected the diversity of the spectrum.

We are working to change this, and that’s why we’re ready to support TV, film and other projects that are likely to reach a lot of people. We do this by talking to TV and film writers, directors and researchers, helping them to have a fuller understanding of autism. And, importantly, we introduce them and actors to autistic people, helping them to avoid perpetuating tired old stereotypes. In our experience, people really want to get things right, and they jump at the chance to learn more from autistic people about their experiences and how they see the world. We believe this is why we’re starting to see a much richer range of representations of autism.

The National Autistic Society has been consulted on lots of amazing programmes, including our ambassador Chris Packham’s recent documentary Asperger’s and Me, BBC One’s crime drama Undercover, BBC Two’s Employable Me and Channel 4’s Autistic Gardener.

We have some exciting new shows in the pipeline, so please watch this space.

Series two of The A Word  launched on 7 November on BBC One; it’s two years on, and the Hughes family are still in the process of coming to terms with their son Joe’s diagnosis. He’s struggling to cope in the playground and in the classroom and his mum and dad are trying their best to help him and themselves to understand exactly what it means to be different.

You can watch series one and the first episode of series two on iPlayer now.