Fay and BowieWe talked to one of our parent campaigners, the wonderful Fay Hough, about her involvement with the BBC Radio 4 afternoon drama, A Badge, by actor, writer and director Tony Pitts.

Tony interviewed you as part of his research and based some of Chloe’s story on things that happened to you. How did it feel to have these experiences made into a drama?

It felt surreal having my story made into a character. I was lucky enough to read the script, and it isn’t until you are reading back and going over what you and your child have been through that you realise how much of a journey you’ve been on. I felt so grateful that this level of autism awareness was being made. 

Female relationships are really important, literally life changing, in A Badge and the bond between Chloe and her mum is particularly strong. Does that reflect your own experience?

Myself and my mum are literally best friends. I raised my son as a single parent and she played the father role. She is the strongest and wisest person I know, and if it wasn’t for her approaching me when Bowie was two years old about the possibility of Bowie being autistic, I wouldn’t have got the early intervention for Bowie that he received. I’m always so grateful and thankful for having such a wonderful woman as a mother and a best friend. 

You and your son Bowie get a special mention in the credits. How does that feel?

It feels amazing to get a special mention! The actors that play the roles in this radio drama are very famous actors and musicians. To be mentioned on the same piece of work as them was also so surreal!

Radio and TV dramas have the power to change attitudes because they attract such large audiences. What do you hope listeners, without a personal connection to autism, might learn from A Badge?

The power of A Badge is that listeners will have to visualise what they think autism is. They will sit there taking it all in and make their own perception. This will hopefully increase their understanding, and if they see a child having a meltdown on the street or in the supermarket they may think twice before making a quick assumption, and that is so important.

Autism is not visible to the eye, so this radio drama will hopefully make listeners empathise a little bit more with what we as parents, and our children, feel every time we leave the house and feel judgemental eyes staring at us. It will also make them understand a bit more about what we go through at home.

It is a 24-hour, 365 days a year disability, with very little sleep, lots and lots of emotion and a bucket load of patience. I hope this drama helps others develop the patience and understanding that we have. 

If there was one thing that you could change about the public’s perception of autism, what would that be?

Judgement. Judgement is what I would change. I’ve been told to control my ‘spoilt child’ – I’ve been told ‘my child needs a good slap’. Little did these people know that my child was having a meltdown at the time they was making their snap judgements. He was also non-verbal so he couldn’t express his anxiety.

If the general public took two seconds to take a step back when witnessing what they think is a major tantrum, they may consider that there’s more to that situation than what meets the eye, and by not staring or making a comment, they are showing understanding. That’s all us autism parents want. Understanding.

Read our exclusive interview with A Badge writer Tony Pitts and listen to A Badge online.