Revealing the truth behind autism

Are You Autistic?
Are You Autistic?

An autism advocate from Morley has appeared in a major new Channel 4 documentary, helping to debunk common misconceptions of autism.

Ollie Marchant was one of a number of young people that appeared in Are You Autistic?, after Amibitious About Autism’s youth network - of which Ollie is a member - contacted Channel 4, while the documentary was in development, to offer its views.

Ollie, aged 19, and a member of the Autism Education Trust youth panel, was diagnosed with autism in year 10 at school.

“The highlight of the experience for me was hearing the other Ambitious youth patrons’ experiences of autism,” said Ollie, who is currently studying at Lancaster University.

“It was really interesting to get a perspective on life on the spectrum that wasn’t my own and see what was the same or different.”

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects one in 100 adults and children in the UK. There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK, meaning that autism is a major part of daily life for 2.8 million people in the country today.

The Channel 4 documentary looked at many aspects of autism, with Ollie and other autistic young people helping to debunk common misconceptions and stereotypes. Programme makers invited members of Ambitious About Autism’s youth network to play a key role in the film - in a bid to ensure that the experience of young people living with autism was represented throughout the documentary.

Ollie added: “I hope people who watched the documentary learned that people on the autistic spectrum aren’t ‘wrong’ or ‘broken,’ and that we’re not all the same.”

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious About Autism, said: “We’re hugely proud of the key role our youth council members have played in shaping and developing this documentary, which has brought greater understanding and awareness of autism to a wide audience.

“The views and experiences of young people with autism are often underrepresented in the media so it’s fantastic that our youth panel members have used this platform to speak out together and engage others.”

Visit www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk for more information about autism, and to gain support.