TV review: autistic young lives in focus on the BBC

April 5, 2023

Chris Packman, Inside Our Autistic Minds, with acknowledgements to the BBC

Exposure’s autistic author, Max Ferreira reviews new documentary about how young people like him share their experiences

For many years there has been so many autism related television programmes like The Autistic Gardener and Life, Animated. Recently I was introduced to a brand new programme that takes a look at the world of young people with the learning difficulty. It’s called Inside Our Autistic Minds.

This two-part BBC Two documentary, which aired in February 2023, is about TV Nature presenter, Chris Packman CBE who set out to put together a series of short films based on the lives of Flo, Murray, Ethan and Anton who all have autism.

They were willing to express their true selves to their friends and family, with Chris Packham’s help. Each short film addresses the individual behaviours and experiences these young people with autism have gone through, like masking, having a voice, sensory overload and having strict routines.

What I like about Inside Our Autistic Minds is how Chris Packham gets a good insight into how Flo, Murray, Ethan and Anton experience the world differently from each other. I also like the positive outcome each of the four films had on those who watched them.

The documentary takes a look at some of the specialist support facilities like Limpsfield Grange School and talks to people like Dr Luke Beardon who understands the challenges young people with autism have to go through.

According to Chris Packham himself, “I don’t want anyone else to have to go through some of the difficulties that I faced myself. I’ve been fortunate to have been given a small voice by my work in television and I think I have to do something positive with that.”

This means that – ever since Chris talked about his own experience of autism on Chris Packman: Asperger’s and Me in 2017 – he’s willing to help young people who might have gone through similar situations and wants to highlight their vision of the world in the most comfortable way possible.

Comparing to other programmes like BBC One’s Our Family and Autism, which documents a family’s account of their children’s autism, Inside Our Autistic Minds emphasises that every young person diagnosed with autism is different with their daily challenges (e.g. the support they need and what makes them happy).

As a young person with autism I found Inside Our Autistic Minds touching and inspirational. Chris Packman and his production team did a brilliant job to put together four creative short films. All of them are unique, effective and relatable.

Like Chris Packham, when I started to understand my own autism, I was willing to share it by writing short stories. Then later on I joined Exposure where I have gained confidence and experience in writing online articles on autism, such as Livingstone School’s Kingfisher group and TFL Creative Media’s short film The Railway Woman.

I would absolutely recommend this new programme to everyone as we live in a very diverse world where we all need to be educated to understand that we are all different in how we relate to the world. It’s okay to be different!

You can watch Inside Our Autistic Minds on BBC IPlayer.