The Autistic Me


The Autistic Me

Documentary which follows three people - 23-year-old Oli, 15-year-old Thomas and 24-year-old Alex - with autism at pivotal moments on the rocky road to being accepted as an adult.


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Transcript


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There's a lot of high expectation for somebody who's got autism

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to actually conform to society's rules.

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What's it like to grow up in a world that views you differently?

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How do you really become an adult

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when everyone treats you like a child?

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People like me don't understand what's real and what's not real.

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But I still see him as a little four-year-old.

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I don't think and operate like everyone else.

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I just go with the flow.

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I follow the lives of three autistic young men

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as they negotiate the everyday struggles of growing up.

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I can see you.

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Looking for love...

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'm the beholder.

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..desperate for work...

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Give me that job.

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..and longing for independence.

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Get that out of my face, then!

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Is it...

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Is it cos I'm autistic?

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This programme contains some strong language.

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This is Tom.

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He's 15.

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He lives in Kent with his mum,

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dad, four brothers, a sister, a dog and two cats.

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In many ways, Tom is like any other teenager.

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Tom, are you having a shower this morning?

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In the mornings, it's terrible. You wake up to...it's like a war zone.

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Hurry up. Don't leave it too long.

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But there's one thing that makes Tom different.

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Do you exactly know what autism is?

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Um, yeah, sort of.

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It's like, um...

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I can't do certain things,

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um, and that I'm different to other people.

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And...

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like, there's parts of your brain that,

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um, can't work or something.

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He's got a problem with his brain and it's trouble for him to learn stuff

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and he doesn't learn stuff as quick as us.

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When I'm with other people, I just can't laugh

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for some reason or, like, shout.

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-But does that bother you?

-Sometimes.

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Autism is a developmental condition which affects

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1 in every 100 people born.

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People with autism view the world as a strange and often confusing place.

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They have trouble communicating and interacting

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in the same way as everyone else.

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I would like to be a little more confident around people

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and things like that.

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Thomas isn't like other teenagers because of his level of maturity.

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I have tried to do something to make her, um...

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just to make her see that I've grown up a bit and stuff,

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but she just never will trust me.

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That's one of the reasons I don't let him go out with other people,

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because I feel he'd be taken advantage of.

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Tom attended a mainstream school up until the age of 14.

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He was then placed in a specialist school 15 miles away.

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I've changed quite a bit,

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um, since I moved school last year.

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All the people from my old school

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don't like me very much for some reason,

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I'm not a very popular person.

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Do you like it at your new school better?

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Yeah, a bit, cos people, um, aren't calling you tramp

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and stuff like that

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and, um, just going to try and trip you up and stuff.

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Those people bullied you?

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That must have been horrible.

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He wants to be like all the other kids out there,

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doing what they're doing.

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He wants a girlfriend and he wants a group of friends around him

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and he wants the independence as well.

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It's a real shame because he's being denied a life that he wants.

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Tom's older brother James is throwing a party in the back garden

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to celebrate his 19th birthday.

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Tom's autism can make social situations daunting.

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I'm a bit nervous that,

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um, my brother might smoke up a load of stuff

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and make people laugh at me.

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I just want them to think I was just normal,

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be the same as everyone else, like, join in and,

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like, just have friends and stuff.

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When I'm in the car and I can see a group of people playing football

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and all on bikes and just having fun together,

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and I've never actually done that with people.

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I like to drink. When I'm drunk, I feel confident and not so shy.

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Have you chatted to any girls yet?

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No, not really.

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I always knew Tom at school. Tom was well shy at school.

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I never, ever heard Tom speak at all in school, ever.

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You know, the whole four years that I knew him

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and I never heard you talk at all.

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Good to hear him talk finally after four years. How d'you find school?

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Well, yeah, it's a bit better.

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-He's a good lad at the end of the day, even if he didn't talk.

-You look exactly like James.

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It's amazing. Yeah, you can tell they're brothers.

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Come on then, let's dance.

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We're going to dance.

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'Autism has a wide spectrum and individuals can often show

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'a keen interest or high level of ability in other areas of their lives.

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'For 23-year-old Oli, it's drums and history.'

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So Henry V, when was he born?

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He was born in 1389, England, son of Henry Bolingbroke,

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who was Henry IV,

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who usurped the throne from Richard II.

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Oli has high functioning autism.

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People like him can show an impressive knowledge in their

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favourite subjects, masking the true depth of their disability.

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I see myself as a bit of a wolf for some reason.

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Wolves - I find wolves a very masculine animal and,

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being what I am...

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Regardless of his abilities and knowledge,

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Oli has spent the last four years trying to get his first paid job.

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As soon as I left school I was very belligerent, almost,

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about actually getting a job, any job at all.

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I was very eager to, um, have routine.

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We know that Oliver and other young people like him

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absolutely need routine

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and they need structure.

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My criminal mug shot. Have you seen this man?

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Finally, last year, aged 22,

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Oli found temporary work with help from the National Autistic Society.

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We're going to cross over.

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He has a temporary contract stamping books at the British Library.

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Bye.

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STATION PA: King's Cross.

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Right, you'll find it's a bit ruck and tuck getting on.

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But this commute will be one of Oli's last,

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as his temporary contract is up at the end of the week.

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After that, he's out of work.

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This is actually officially my last week.

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Things that I will miss is the camaraderie of the workforce.

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I'll miss the companionship of some of the guys there.

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Cos I'm quite out loud sort of person in the office,

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to me it's a matter of pride.

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I style my attitude almost like the samurai.

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Like Oli, many people with autism lead their lives

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around routine and repetition,

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without which life can seem chaotic.

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To Oli, this job was more than just a place to work.

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This is where I work.

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I work in this side of the British Library, but I go in Gate 8.

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I'm now about to get my work pass out.

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Are you sad?

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Yeah.

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So what does the future hold?

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Perfect world, me in a permanent job,

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earning a reasonable wage.

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My ideal world, but reality might say otherwise, so,

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as is often the way, you dream of something that will never quite work out.

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-Mum.

-What?

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Mum, he's attacking Josh.

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Who is? What's the matter with you?

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He threw a pillow at my face when I was watching telly.

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-I dropped it into your face, yeah?

-Retard.

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I sometimes sit in that little hut thing when I'm angry or something.

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-What makes you angry?

-Um, when me and my dad fight and stuff like that.

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He's angry with near enough everything and everyone.

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Why do you fight, do you think?

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Um, cos my dad's an idiot.

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Since puberty, he's become much more aggressive, much more violent,

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he doesn't seem to care now who he upsets

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or what he says would upset people.

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He seems to have lost all his compassion for other people.

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It's quite weird the way he's changed in the last few years,

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cos he used to be a really quiet little kid at home

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and he used to be quite smiley all of the time and then,

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as he got to about secondary school age,

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he totally changed and just became like a moody teenager really,

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but a bit more extreme than that.

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My mum treats me like a kid

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and my dad just acts the same to everyone.

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He's hit me before now.

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He's hit my mum a few times and he's threatened my dad with a knife

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quite a few times as well.

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The time he pulled the knife out in the kitchen on my dad,

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they called the police.

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When he pulled the knife out on me,

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that was the worst that time, cos he lunged forward as well.

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I wouldn't actually use it, though.

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I was just trying to scare him off.

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Even the dog's learned to stay away from Tom.

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When Tom's around, the dog will just go in the other room.

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I kicked a hole here.

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Do you remember why?

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Cos mum upset me with something and I just kicked a hole in there.

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Why did she...?

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Tom, you was the one who broke that hole.

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'In the last year, Tom has run away three times.'

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Where did you run to last time?

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My nan's caravan.

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He absconded from home and he disappeared all day,

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all through the night, and we had police search out for him.

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There was over 100 police and there was,

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like, the whole front of our garden was full up with police cars

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and all up the road.

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They was all like, "Oh, there you are,"

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and then they all just walked off. It was stupid.

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He's had this teddy since he was about two.

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And although it's sort of banished to the back of the cupboard, I've noticed it's still there.

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A Led Zeppelin album, Slipknot and The Ultimate Metal,

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The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Sooty Show.

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It is strange. It's like this is who he is, this is what he enjoys,

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this is what he understands,

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but all these other things are what boys his age are usually looking at.

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He wants to watch them because this is what boys his age do,

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but he gets far more enjoyment out of watching Sooty.

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Mum always treats me like a baby, but when I, like,

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do serious things like have fights with my dad,

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that's when my mum starts talking to me like an older person.

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Like, she goes...

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Well, she says, like, complicated words and stuff like that.

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Yeah, I would like to live alone.

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-Do you know why?

-Not any arguments and fighting and stuff like that.

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What do you like about being on your own when you're here?

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Um, well, I can just be myself.

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Are you not yourself in front of anyone else?

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Um, not completely.

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I can be a little bit weird.

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I've been known to talk to myself or something like that.

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Or, like, there's something in my head

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and, like, I'm looking at that and it says it's wrong or something,

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and I end up saying it to myself without realising.

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I get a bit upset that my friends don't sometimes think

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the same way as me.

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I would like to be, like, famous and see myself on telly,

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like, playing my guitar, or singing or something.

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What would you like about being famous?

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Just to be popular, cos I'm not like a very popular person.

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Who's that from?

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"This is my address.

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"Dear Tom, you make me feel special every single day.

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"When I talk to you, my worries fade away.

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"From your Honey Bunny." Hmm.

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And her address - that's a bit worrying - Peterborough.

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I'm going to take that for safekeeping,

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just in case he decides to jump on a train and head up that way.

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Will you actually take that from his room?

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I'd rather he didn't have it,

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because if he gets the hump one day and decides he's going to find out

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how to get to this address, he'll do it,

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and I'd rather take that risk away.

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Autism can make forming relationships extremely difficult.

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Alex is 24 and looking for love.

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Thank you.

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I would treat a woman romantically and with respect.

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Say she's beautiful, also kiss her hand occasionally.

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-Do you think you'd be a good boyfriend?

-Yes.

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Around half of adults with autism still live with their parents.

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Alex lives at home with his mum, Peggy,

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and has a type of autism called Asperger's syndrome.

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It would be nice if you met a girl who was part of a family,

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just looking for a nice guy, who's honest

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and doesn't like to go drinking too much

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-and doing other dodgy things and...

-Mmm.

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Whilst people like Alex can have above average intelligence,

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they can find relationships and communicating complicated.

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I hope that it would be somebody like you.

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There's very good things about Asperger's

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that are good things to have in a boyfriend.

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You'll be on time and you'll be...

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-Honest.

-You're honest and you won't mess them about and...

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They'd have to understand that you like things a certain way sometimes

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and can't explain why you don't.

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And you don't really want to have someone who's...

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-Smokes or drinks too much.

-Yeah...

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-Takes drugs.

-Heavy drinker, yeah.

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I just go with the flow.

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Do you not think that you might be taken advantage of?

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Yeah, but I'll go with the flow. If they're taking advantage, I'll stop.

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You don't have to have a girlfriend.

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-That's the other thing you need to know.

-I'm not having a boyfriend!

-That's not what I mean!

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Alex has put his efforts into finding love online.

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I'm on most of them.

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Last time I paid is on Match.com for £22.80 for one month.

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And so how many people have contacted you on this?

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Oh, replying to me, I think, nothing. Nothing much.

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So you're doing all the pursuing?

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Yes.

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And what's your criteria in a woman?

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5'6" to 6'5".

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Would 6'5" be a bit tall?

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Well, roughly my height, to be honest. I am not sure.

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I don't mind what colour eyes or what colour hair.

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Any ethnics, any faith,

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any education, any language,

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any profession, any amount of money, no way on the smoking.

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-What if you met a really nice girl but she smoked?

-I wouldn't mind.

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I'm not picky, as I say.

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What comes with a girlfriend that you're looking for?

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Someone to look after me and I'll look after her in return.

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What other things would you like to do with a girlfriend?

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To have a family.

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To go out and do stuff with.

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Like bowling, and meet their mates and vice versa.

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I'm a man and a man needs a woman!

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Tom has also been talking online, and despite the uneasy atmosphere

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in the house, Tom's told his mum he wants his girlfriend to visit.

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Tom? Who is this girl that's coming?

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What's her name? When's she supposed to be coming?

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I kept asking you every week and you kept saying no.

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-Well, that's right.

-It's in three weeks.

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-In three weeks?

-Yeah.

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Don't you think her mum and dad ought to phone me, please?

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Mummy, fix the coat.

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Is that OK?

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Well, can you give her my number so she can phone me?

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Cos I don't know if her parents can come.

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There's loads of step-parents there.

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What do you mean, loads of step-parents?

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She's got her mum and her mum's boyfriend, who she hates,

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and her dad, who lives in Scotland.

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So, who is there to say she can come or she can't?

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She said her dad would drop her here.

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What, from Scotland? And he's going to go all the way to Peterborough

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to bring her all the way here?

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-Well, could you get him to phone me to let me know that?

-Mm-hm.

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Surely her dad would not want her to just be dropped off

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at some stranger's house.

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Yeah, her dad has another family, though.

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It doesn't matter how many families you've got.

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Surely he's got some common sense.

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Will you let her stay, Lisa?

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Well, I don't know, really.

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I don't know anything about her.

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I don't know how old she is, if she's got her parents' permission,

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I don't know anything at all.

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I don't know, really.

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No, probably not.

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Can I have that, Tom, cos I don't want it broken for tomorrow.

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'It's Oli's first day of unemployment.'

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So how are you feeling today, when you sort of woke up?

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Well, when I woke up, I think to myself, "My God, it's all over,

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"back where I am now, boring, numb."

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When you read things like, "Dear Oliver, what can one say?

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"It's been a joy knowing you

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"and working with you and you will be really missed in the office.

0:22:000:22:04

"You're a special person and special people reap good things in life.

0:22:040:22:09

"You are so funny and bubbly.

0:22:090:22:12

"I hope you'll always stay like that.

0:22:120:22:14

"I wish you all the best in your future."

0:22:140:22:16

It's really hard to close that chapter,

0:22:160:22:20

wondering whether it can ever be found again.

0:22:200:22:24

Once I came home I realised that

0:22:260:22:30

I was probably never going to get that opportunity again in some ways,

0:22:300:22:37

cos I'm now faced with the great curse of a blank canvas.

0:22:370:22:42

There you go.

0:22:420:22:43

-Back to where I was before I even got the job.

-Yes.

-Again.

0:22:430:22:47

I've got the folder of all the jobs that you've applied for.

0:22:470:22:51

There's this whole list of them.

0:22:510:22:53

He's got another form that he brought home yesterday.

0:22:530:22:56

Me and 4½ million people are saying and doing the same.

0:22:560:23:01

Murders, murders, murders. All they've got to say is about murders.

0:23:010:23:07

Cleaning? No.

0:23:070:23:09

Don't you fancy cleaning?

0:23:090:23:11

No, it's not a man's thing.

0:23:110:23:13

What else will you do today?

0:23:130:23:17

Well...

0:23:170:23:18

I'm unemployed, so what can you expect?

0:23:210:23:24

I'm just waking up to the fact that,

0:23:240:23:29

no job, no routine.

0:23:290:23:32

But I'm in no rush.

0:23:420:23:44

Tom has told his mum he's expecting a visitor.

0:24:010:24:04

He's invited the girl he met on the internet over for the day.

0:24:040:24:09

My girlfriend's coming over.

0:24:090:24:11

She's just left now and her dad's bringing her here.

0:24:110:24:15

What was your mum's reaction?

0:24:150:24:17

She went a little crazy and then, like, she changed her mind

0:24:170:24:20

and then she says, "That's OK, "

0:24:200:24:21

and then she goes crazy again.

0:24:210:24:23

And she goes, "You don't know who she is.

0:24:230:24:26

"She could be a paedophile," and stuff like that.

0:24:260:24:28

It's just so stupid.

0:24:280:24:30

So are you excited?

0:24:300:24:33

-Mm-hm.

-How does it feel?

0:24:330:24:35

Well, a little bit weird cos part of me thinks

0:24:350:24:39

that she's going to be here any second and part of me thinks that

0:24:390:24:44

she's not going to be here and stuff like that. It's a bit weird.

0:24:440:24:47

Despite her worries,

0:24:470:24:48

Tom's mum Lisa has reluctantly allowed her to visit.

0:24:480:24:52

I haven't met her,

0:24:520:24:54

but apparently she's coming to see him from, where is it, Peterborough?

0:24:540:25:01

-Mm-hm.

-So, um...

0:25:010:25:03

..it remains to be seen as to how we're going to manage today.

0:25:060:25:10

Have you heard from her?

0:25:100:25:12

-Mm-hm.

-Is she on her way?

-Mm-hm.

0:25:120:25:16

Tom, how long did she say it's going to take to get here?

0:25:160:25:19

She said four hours.

0:25:190:25:21

Four hours?!

0:25:210:25:22

I know.

0:25:220:25:25

-I hope she doesn't think she's staying overnight.

-She's not.

0:25:250:25:29

I think he's so restricted, he's so fed up being indoors, being at home,

0:25:290:25:37

being kept as a child, that he's really fighting for this,

0:25:370:25:42

he's really fighting for an adult life.

0:25:420:25:44

And as much as I've tried to stop him doing too much too soon,

0:25:440:25:50

I do feel he's got to the point in his life

0:25:500:25:52

where I have to give him some freedom and let him go.

0:25:520:25:54

MOBILE PHONE BLEEPS

0:25:540:25:56

She said her dad's having a go at her for some reason.

0:25:580:26:02

CAR HORN TOOTS

0:26:100:26:12

Is that her?

0:26:160:26:17

I don't know who it is.

0:26:170:26:19

Her dad might not let her come.

0:26:220:26:25

MOBILE PHONE BLEEPS

0:26:250:26:27

Um, she just said that her dad's not bringing her now.

0:26:430:26:47

No, it's not them.

0:26:500:26:51

Tom?

0:27:320:27:34

Mum, I can't... Where's my magic doll?

0:27:340:27:39

I don't know what you've done with it.

0:27:390:27:41

Tom?

0:27:440:27:46

Tom?

0:27:460:27:47

Tom, love, come on, sit up for a minute.

0:27:470:27:51

-Tom?

-What?

0:27:510:27:53

Quick, you want to be awake when she gets here, don't you?

0:27:530:27:56

-She's not even coming, you arsehole.

-She's not coming?

0:27:560:27:59

She's not coming? Why?

0:27:590:28:01

Has she said she's not coming?

0:28:020:28:05

Don't hit me.

0:28:060:28:08

It happens all the time. It's not the first time.

0:28:150:28:18

It happens all the time.

0:28:180:28:20

People don't seem to realise

0:28:220:28:25

how much they play with people's feelings or their minds or anything.

0:28:250:28:29

I'd like to know what she said.

0:28:290:28:30

Tom, we need your help...

0:28:320:28:33

Get the fuck away from me!

0:28:330:28:35

Part of Alex's routine

0:28:550:28:57

is playing pool in a local league every Tuesday night,

0:28:570:29:01

and it seems even his pool mates know exactly what he's looking for.

0:29:010:29:07

Yeah, I think he'd like a girlfriend, yeah.

0:29:070:29:09

What kind of girl do you think he'd go for?

0:29:090:29:12

-Any girl he likes.

-Any?

0:29:120:29:15

Anyone, yeah.

0:29:150:29:17

He's got a lot of good qualities, I'd say.

0:29:210:29:23

He's very outgoing.

0:29:230:29:25

It's just a case of finding the right one, really.

0:29:250:29:27

He's my baby, but I'm probably selfish with him,

0:29:340:29:38

but as a mum, you always want to be needed, however little it is.

0:29:380:29:44

Would it be easier for you if Alex

0:29:440:29:46

was looking to date girls with autism?

0:29:460:29:48

Um...probably, it probably would,

0:29:530:29:56

but that's obviously going to have its own difficulties as well.

0:29:560:30:00

Alex probably wouldn't be.

0:30:000:30:03

They don't get on with one another,

0:30:030:30:05

because they don't get on with anybody very easily.

0:30:050:30:08

How hard or easy would it be if he did find someone?

0:30:110:30:15

It would be very hard.

0:30:150:30:18

You don't want them to be hurt

0:30:180:30:21

and you want to keep them safe and close to you.

0:30:210:30:24

Yeah, it would be very hard.

0:30:240:30:27

Growing up is harder because they tend to mature more slowly

0:30:270:30:32

and they really don't have the life experiences.

0:30:320:30:36

You look cold.

0:30:380:30:40

I'm freezing. Have you finished?

0:30:400:30:42

-We won the last one.

-Oh, jolly good.

0:30:420:30:44

-Do you think it's harder growing up with Asperger's or...?

-Yes.

0:30:440:30:48

Yes? Why? Why is it harder?

0:30:480:30:50

Excuse me a minute.

0:30:500:30:52

-Why is it harder?

-I don't know. Cos I get bad-tempered easily sometimes,

0:30:520:30:59

it's hard to find a job, bit of a problem, or get a girlfriend.

0:30:590:31:04

It's only a few days since I last saw Tom, but his mood hasn't changed

0:31:040:31:10

and it seems now he's in trouble.

0:31:100:31:13

What it was, Tom was on MSN

0:31:150:31:16

and there wasn't anybody on there so he was just mucking about,

0:31:160:31:19

and one of the kids wanted to go on the computer and he said to them,

0:31:190:31:23

"Fuck off, you're not going on it."

0:31:230:31:25

I said, "Don't talk to them like that, Tom,"

0:31:250:31:27

and he's just stood up, punched me on the side of the head,

0:31:270:31:30

I've near enough seen stars cos I wasn't expecting it,

0:31:300:31:33

and then all I could do is stop him from getting the other kids,

0:31:330:31:37

so I'm just holding him on the floor.

0:31:370:31:39

It was like restraining a wild horse, wasn't it? Literally.

0:31:390:31:42

So how did you do it?

0:31:420:31:44

The only way I could do it was lay on top of him

0:31:440:31:46

and then he's still dragging me across the floor,

0:31:460:31:49

but that's the only way you can deal with it.

0:31:490:31:51

You can't just put him in a cold shower. We've done that before,

0:31:510:31:54

and he's kicked the shower to bits and then we have to redo all the walls again,

0:31:540:31:58

same as in his bedroom.

0:31:580:31:59

We both feel like we've been hit by a lorry.

0:32:110:32:15

Just can't control him.

0:32:150:32:17

My dad just started, like, really annoying me,

0:32:500:32:54

so I had a bit of a fight.

0:32:540:32:57

I kept swinging my arms and stuff, trying to push him away

0:32:590:33:03

and I accidentally punched him round the face.

0:33:030:33:05

I seriously didn't mean to do that and then he started charging at me

0:33:050:33:10

and I was just trying to protect myself.

0:33:100:33:13

And he stood on my face and you can see the bruise if you look carefully,

0:33:160:33:22

sort of round there.

0:33:220:33:23

And I've got a lump at the back of my head

0:33:230:33:26

and he scratched my hands where he was trying to hold me.

0:33:260:33:30

And there's a bruise somewhere on my arm.

0:33:300:33:33

And so what do you think's going to happen now?

0:33:350:33:39

I'm not sure.

0:33:390:33:41

Today I just thought, like, exercise and stuff, trying to get stronger,

0:33:410:33:48

cos at the minute I just feel, like, small and weak,

0:33:480:33:52

so when my dad attacks me again, I can pin him to the floor

0:33:520:33:58

and tell him that I'm not weak and they can leave me alone.

0:33:580:34:01

I just want them to, like,

0:34:060:34:08

stop having fights with me and just leave me alone.

0:34:080:34:13

Good morning.

0:34:310:34:33

Last time, obviously, you wanted a break from me and the camera and...

0:34:330:34:38

Yes, it didn't feel quite right.

0:34:380:34:41

I mean, if you, say, lost a relative and went to the funeral and,

0:34:410:34:46

the day after, I came knocking on your door, I mean, that's how I felt.

0:34:460:34:51

'Oli's had some positive news.

0:34:520:34:54

'He's been assigned a local council worker,

0:34:540:34:57

'whose job is to help people like him find work.'

0:34:570:34:59

Oh, yeah.

0:34:590:35:00

Would you mind not eating them? Can I take these away?

0:35:000:35:04

You've had an awful lot, sorry.

0:35:040:35:05

-But...

-Yes, I know, but you've had a lot of them and they're still sugar.

0:35:050:35:09

-Shall we talk to Emma about work solutions?

-I want a job.

0:35:090:35:12

-Give me a job.

-Anything else?

0:35:120:35:15

-Um...

-Do you attend a college course

0:35:150:35:17

or are you part of a group on one day or anything like that?

0:35:170:35:21

I've only just been unemployed, so I have no week.

0:35:210:35:24

-OK, and what was your job title while you were there?

-Stamping books.

0:35:240:35:28

-Stamping assistant, wasn't it?

-You were just doing a temporary contract?

-Yeah.

0:35:280:35:32

And they didn't feel they could extend that,

0:35:320:35:34

-or it was never going to be extended?

-It was never going to be.

0:35:340:35:37

OK. If you had an ideal job you could apply for tomorrow, what would it be?

0:35:370:35:40

-It would be something to do with the performing arts.

-OK.

0:35:400:35:43

I see myself as an actor

0:35:430:35:46

who is starting to exploit his wild talent.

0:35:460:35:50

I'm not sure, but I'm just going to throw it onto the table.

0:35:500:35:55

Something like repetitive data entry.

0:35:550:35:58

Health and social care. So that's...

0:35:580:36:01

No, I'm not going to do that.

0:36:010:36:04

Well, hang on. Do you know what that means?

0:36:040:36:07

Yeah, doing health and safety.

0:36:070:36:09

-No.

-No.

-Everybody has transferable skills.

0:36:090:36:13

-Do you know what that means?

-No.

0:36:130:36:15

So there could be a job where they need somebody to do the washing-up and make cups of tea,

0:36:150:36:20

so you could transfer those skills

0:36:200:36:22

from using them in your house to using them in the workplace.

0:36:220:36:25

Do you understand what I mean by that?

0:36:250:36:27

Yeah, but if you're making a cup of tea and washing up at home,

0:36:280:36:32

what's the point in doing it elsewhere?

0:36:320:36:34

I can't, somehow, conceptually understand...

0:36:340:36:36

-A with B, really, to me, means X with T.

-Yes.

0:36:360:36:42

Well, I think you've explained that really well!

0:36:420:36:45

That was a very good explanation. So I'm going to get off.

0:36:450:36:48

-Yeah.

-I'm just going to get a tissue and get rid of my bogie.

0:36:480:36:53

We need to find an employer

0:36:530:36:55

-who doesn't quite have the demand for the skills.

-Yes.

0:36:550:37:00

Yeah, all right. Sorry to change the subject completely,

0:37:000:37:04

but going on with my...

0:37:040:37:05

Cos I'm a bit of a history nut and what can you...

0:37:050:37:08

Now Oliver, hang on a minute. Oliver, I've got to go.

0:37:080:37:11

Yeah, but I found this word out on this film and it's called pleb.

0:37:110:37:17

-Yeah, and what's that?

-I don't know what it means and I find that

0:37:170:37:20

absolutely hilarious how these Romans greet each other, say, "Hello, pleb."

0:37:200:37:26

When Emma's gone, we'll get out the Oxford English Dictionary

0:37:280:37:33

and we'll have a look to see what it actually means.

0:37:330:37:35

It's got to mean something, cos I'm fascinated to know what it means.

0:37:350:37:39

-Bye.

-Plebs, the lot of them.

0:37:390:37:42

Oli, you're incorrigible.

0:37:420:37:45

-Plebs.

-Very engaging. You liked her, didn't you?

0:37:450:37:47

-I liked her, really seeking the positive.

-Yes.

0:37:470:37:51

I think Oliver's probably got quite a lot to offer in terms of work

0:37:510:37:54

and it's just about us accessing a job that matches his skill set.

0:37:540:38:00

It's all very well talking the talk.

0:38:000:38:03

I want to see that talk put into action.

0:38:030:38:06

Alex is back online, checking messages.

0:38:120:38:16

And this time, he's received one.

0:38:160:38:19

Says her name is Kirsty, she's 19, lives in Poole. Nice name.

0:38:220:38:25

"And I also have autism." Hmm.

0:38:290:38:32

Don't know what to do now.

0:38:370:38:38

Do I send her an e-mail first or just go into the website?

0:38:380:38:42

You know? Help!

0:38:420:38:45

"Dear Kirsty, I would love to share my life with you.

0:39:010:39:04

"What I do in a day - volunteer work on Mondays and Fridays,

0:39:040:39:08

"but what I'd really like to do is spend time with you, maybe one day."

0:39:080:39:12

Are you going to ask to meet her?

0:39:140:39:16

Sunday, after Saturday.

0:39:160:39:20

-Send.

-You look happy.

0:39:220:39:26

Are you gay or something?

0:39:260:39:28

We have a reply.

0:39:340:39:36

"That sounds good, yes, I would like to spend a day with you too." Mmm.

0:39:360:39:41

She wants to spend the day with me.

0:39:410:39:43

"Yes, I am free on Sunday.

0:39:430:39:45

"I would like to meet you."

0:39:450:39:47

-This is Kirsty, Mum.

-She looks very nice.

0:39:470:39:50

Mmm. She's very nice, purple.

0:39:500:39:52

-You like purple.

-Yes, she's wearing purple. How bad can it be?

0:39:530:39:57

Yes, and then I might have a date.

0:39:570:39:59

She would like to meet me, she said.

0:39:590:40:02

You're just meeting. It's not a date yet.

0:40:020:40:04

You're just meeting to say hi.

0:40:040:40:07

OK? It's going to rain on Sunday, so it will be a wet day out on Sunday.

0:40:090:40:14

I've had another message.

0:40:140:40:16

It says, "Thank you very much.

0:40:160:40:18

"You look a nice person in your photo, too,

0:40:180:40:21

"happy face.

0:40:210:40:23

"My favourite colour is blue because of dolphins."

0:40:230:40:27

I'll try and remember that. She likes blue like dolphins.

0:40:290:40:33

Tom, you must sign the forms for the college, cos you haven't done it.

0:40:370:40:42

You won't help me with it.

0:40:420:40:43

Well, go and get it and we'll sit and do it now, yeah?

0:40:430:40:46

-Mm-hm.

-Gimme this then.

0:40:460:40:47

Tom attends a school run by the charity Barnardo's

0:40:470:40:51

and both his parents believe it might be beneficial

0:40:510:40:54

if he had some time away from the family.

0:40:540:40:57

The school actually came up with the idea that they could offer him

0:40:570:41:01

residential if somebody could pay for it.

0:41:010:41:05

He will be away from the family during the week to give us and him

0:41:050:41:08

a break, cos he doesn't cope with the noise and what goes on here.

0:41:080:41:13

Predicted grades. So put English...

0:41:130:41:17

B? Tom, don't be silly, otherwise I'll have to write it up.

0:41:170:41:24

He has in his own room in a unit, like a children's home.

0:41:240:41:26

-Do you have any form of learning difficulties?

-Um, yeah.

0:41:260:41:30

And I want you to write, "I have autism."

0:41:300:41:34

'Hopefully, if we all have a bit of a break and a bit of breathing space,'

0:41:350:41:40

the relationship between me and Tom might get better,

0:41:400:41:43

the relationship between you and Tom might get a bit better,

0:41:430:41:46

and everybody else, really.

0:41:460:41:48

Oli is hitting the high street on his mission to find work.

0:41:520:41:58

Anyone that has got a hole in the wall, as in, like, somebody drops out

0:41:580:42:02

-for whatever reason, can I have that job?

-Yeah, all right, yeah(!)

0:42:020:42:05

My jeans just keep falling down.

0:42:050:42:10

'I've done some cold calling, sent my CV out to various local businesses

0:42:100:42:16

'and companies in Potter's Bar, Hertford, Hatfield, Welling, St Albans.

0:42:160:42:22

'I'm still waiting. I'm still unemployed.'

0:42:220:42:25

What can I get you?

0:42:250:42:26

Can I have this branch of Costa's? Can I have a job?

0:42:260:42:30

We're barely hanging on to ours, let alone giving you one.

0:42:320:42:36

I'll just sling the manager out his office and have his job, yeah?

0:42:360:42:40

-I'll pay you double rates.

-Yeah, that would be good!

0:42:400:42:42

Only 15% of people with autism are in full-time employment.

0:42:460:42:52

Alex is lucky enough to work part-time for a local security company.

0:42:520:42:57

I interviewed for an office assistant and Alex sent a letter

0:42:590:43:03

and it did say he had mild Asperger's.

0:43:030:43:05

It's only for the fact that he was so honest

0:43:050:43:09

on his CV, he didn't try and hide it,

0:43:090:43:11

he actually said, "This is what's wrong with me,

0:43:110:43:14

"this is what I can do and I'd like to show you what I can do",

0:43:140:43:18

that we actually said, "OK, we'll see him."

0:43:180:43:20

We haven't looked back since.

0:43:200:43:22

My wage slip.

0:43:220:43:24

Alex has told his workmates about his upcoming meeting with Kirsty.

0:43:250:43:31

-Have you see pictures of her?

-Yeah, I've seen her picture.

0:43:310:43:34

-Have you met her yet?

-No.

0:43:340:43:36

She sent me a picture on an e-mail.

0:43:360:43:38

Oh, well, so that's ideal, isn't it?

0:43:380:43:40

Not the same as actually meeting someone.

0:43:400:43:42

No, but it gives you an introduction.

0:43:420:43:44

It gives you, like, something to talk about, you know?

0:43:440:43:47

You just need to see how it goes, and if it doesn't work out,

0:43:470:43:51

clock it up to experience and start again.

0:43:510:43:53

Yeah.

0:43:530:43:55

What's good for you on this is you can actually talk to somebody that's

0:43:550:43:59

got exactly the same as yourself,

0:43:590:44:01

whereas that must be really hard for you to date somebody that hasn't.

0:44:010:44:05

So you can have nice cuddles with a little bit of... Yeah?

0:44:050:44:10

-Yeah.

-Whatever.

0:44:100:44:12

"Whatever." I've made him blush.

0:44:120:44:15

Don't wear that tie either.

0:44:150:44:18

If I was any cooler, I'd be an ice cube.

0:44:210:44:24

Today, Tom's moving out of the family home

0:44:300:44:33

and into his school's residential unit.

0:44:330:44:36

He'll become a residential student,

0:44:360:44:38

rather than a day student, so he will stay in residence

0:44:380:44:42

from Monday to Friday.

0:44:420:44:45

It will help him, especially as he's starting his exams.

0:44:450:44:47

It will help to have a bit of respite for him and respite for us.

0:44:470:44:52

And I do feel that he needs to grow up and I feel that this is

0:44:520:44:55

the only way of doing it, really.

0:44:550:44:57

I suppose, being his parents, you feel like

0:45:000:45:03

this shouldn't have happened in the first place and that, you know...

0:45:030:45:06

He can't help the way he is and I've got to accept the fact

0:45:060:45:09

that that's what should happen.

0:45:090:45:11

But there's sort of a degree of guilt with that

0:45:110:45:14

and failure, that he's having to go somewhere else.

0:45:140:45:20

How do you feel about it?

0:45:220:45:25

Um, I'm OK about it.

0:45:250:45:27

Part of me just wants to, like, go away from my family and stuff.

0:45:300:45:34

Do you feel a bit sad? Do you feel happy? Do you feel...?

0:45:340:45:37

Um, at the moment I feel,

0:45:380:45:41

like, really hot and ill.

0:45:410:45:42

I just came out the shower

0:45:420:45:45

and, just, like the feeling started coming out of me.

0:45:450:45:47

It feels like there's still steam around me for some reason.

0:45:470:45:51

It feels really weird.

0:45:510:45:53

-Tom?

-Yeah.

0:46:030:46:06

It's the week of Tom's GCSEs, and this morning he has an art exam.

0:46:240:46:30

Tom will share his new home with 12 other boys

0:46:320:46:35

with social, emotional and behavioural needs.

0:46:350:46:39

The boys are cared for round the clock by a team of social workers.

0:46:390:46:43

Oh, look at this.

0:46:430:46:45

You can choose a bed, Tom, whichever one you want to...

0:46:450:46:49

-I choose that one.

-Tom, your exam starts in five minutes,

0:46:490:46:53

-so can you...?

-Right.

0:46:530:46:56

If you want to make your way there, I'll make your bed

0:46:560:46:58

and have it all nice for when you come back.

0:46:580:47:01

Tom.

0:47:060:47:08

- Do I get a kiss? - Nope.

0:47:120:47:13

Aaw. Give your dad a hug or something.

0:47:150:47:17

No.

0:47:170:47:19

And I'll see you on Friday, yeah?

0:47:250:47:28

Mm-hm.

0:47:280:47:30

See you, Tom. Give me a ring later.

0:47:300:47:32

See you.

0:47:320:47:34

-See you.

-Love you, bye.

0:47:370:47:42

"Dear Tom, I hope you like how I made your bed.

0:47:440:47:49

"Looks more comfy than the one you have at home.

0:47:490:47:52

"You'll really enjoy being around the other boys.

0:47:520:47:54

"It's like being on holiday,

0:47:540:47:56

"but without your brothers and Charlotte to mess things up for you.

0:47:560:47:59

"You will now be responsible for yourself

0:47:590:48:01

"and have to care for yourself.

0:48:010:48:03

"It's a real lesson in growing up and you'll be doing it quicker

0:48:030:48:06

"than everyone else.

0:48:060:48:07

"Enjoy the fun here, keep clean and tidy,

0:48:070:48:10

"make sure you shower every day, try really hard in your exams.

0:48:100:48:14

"The peace and quiet should help you a lot.

0:48:140:48:17

"Dad said he loves you and you owe him a kiss when you get home.

0:48:170:48:20

"James, Josh, Ollie, Alex and Lou.

0:48:200:48:24

"PS. Smudge said he'll wait on your bed for you till you get home."

0:48:240:48:28

It's all right.

0:48:290:48:31

He's still my little boy,

0:48:330:48:35

but I still see him as a little four-year-old.

0:48:370:48:40

Oli is still unemployed.

0:48:500:48:52

Despite a visit from a local council worker,

0:48:520:48:56

there's no job on offer.

0:48:560:48:58

In an attempt to fill his time and create a routine,

0:48:580:49:01

Oli has been visiting various town centres.

0:49:010:49:04

Today, he's in his favourite city.

0:49:040:49:06

Cambridge. What do I know about Cambridge?

0:49:060:49:09

Well, it's a city, for starters, known for its university.

0:49:090:49:13

'It's been four months since I first met Oli,

0:49:130:49:16

'and he's getting more and more frustrated with his situation.'

0:49:160:49:20

Talk us through some of the jobs you've applied for.

0:49:200:49:23

Where do you want me to start?

0:49:230:49:24

Sainsbury's, Tesco's Nero's, Costa's, Starbucks,

0:49:240:49:29

BBC, TK Maxx, Mars, WH Smith,

0:49:290:49:33

Boots, John Lewis, Waitrose.

0:49:330:49:37

Quite a lot of them didn't get back to me at all.

0:49:370:49:39

The Government make it bloody awkward for everyone,

0:49:390:49:42

autistic and non-autistic alike.

0:49:420:49:44

They talk cack, and that cack is run by plebs.

0:49:440:49:50

He just goes there because it's something for him to do,

0:49:500:49:56

and that's why it's really important that we do...

0:49:560:50:00

..get a routine for him and some structure.

0:50:020:50:06

So I've often gone down to the end of the garden and cried buckets

0:50:060:50:10

so that nobody can see me or hear me,

0:50:100:50:12

so the flowers should grow very well down there with my tears, shouldn't they, really?

0:50:120:50:17

There are times when I can't handle it. I can't handle the fact that I'm autistic,

0:50:180:50:23

whether I like it or not.

0:50:230:50:24

I'll grow up, yes, but it might take me longer to grow up

0:50:240:50:29

and adjust than some little mainstream...

0:50:290:50:33

You know what I mean?

0:50:330:50:34

Somebody of mainstream origin can grown up just like that.

0:50:340:50:37

Me, it might take me that little bit longer to learn, adjust and then grow.

0:50:370:50:42

Oli is still determined to find work, but with 425,000 more adults

0:50:440:50:49

with autism in his position, it's hard to see if he'll succeed in his mission any time soon.

0:50:490:50:56

Alex is preparing for his meeting with Kirsty.

0:51:010:51:06

I get nervous on first dates, not really talkative.

0:51:060:51:09

It's more like an interrogation.

0:51:090:51:12

-Have you thought about what you'll talk about?

-No.

0:51:120:51:17

Bit hard to know what to talk about if you don't know anything

0:51:170:51:21

about the person you're meeting, apart from she likes Monopoly.

0:51:210:51:24

Thank you.

0:51:260:51:29

Thank you.

0:51:290:51:30

There's a nice seat.

0:51:300:51:32

There's a nice table there.

0:51:320:51:34

Alex's mum Peggy is dropping him at the cafe.

0:51:340:51:38

After that, he's on his own.

0:51:380:51:41

-Yes, I'll call you when I'm finished, Mum.

-OK.

-See you later.

0:51:410:51:46

-Hiya.

-Hello, Kirsty.

0:51:570:51:59

Hi, Alex.

0:51:590:52:01

-Pleased to meet you.

-You all right?

0:52:010:52:04

Yeah. Have a seat.

0:52:040:52:06

Thank you.

0:52:060:52:08

Um...

0:52:230:52:26

Is there anything you want to ask me?

0:52:260:52:30

I can't think of anything, I'm afraid, at the moment.

0:52:320:52:36

-I hate having Asperger's sometimes.

-Why?

0:52:380:52:41

For making me so nervous and quiet.

0:52:410:52:44

Do you do like set routines?

0:52:440:52:48

Do I like set routines?

0:52:480:52:50

Yes, usually.

0:52:500:52:52

I do everything by the book and like to be on time and things like that.

0:52:520:52:56

Yeah. Do you know about Facebook?

0:52:560:52:59

-Facebook?

-Yeah.

-Not really.

0:52:590:53:01

It's an online social networking site.

0:53:010:53:04

-You can chat to your friends on there as well.

-I don't really have many friends.

0:53:040:53:09

-You've got me.

-Yes, I mean apart from you.

0:53:090:53:13

Will you always be my friend, Kirsty?

0:53:130:53:15

-I will be your friend.

-Always?

-Yeah.

0:53:150:53:18

By the way, you've got a piece of chocolate there.

0:53:200:53:23

Would you like to go for a walk?

0:53:250:53:27

Shall we, my lady?

0:53:290:53:32

Be nice if they could just sort of support one another, even if there's nothing else,

0:53:370:53:43

because they live quite a long way apart, so that's awkward.

0:53:430:53:48

All right, it was nice to see you.

0:53:590:54:02

-It was nice to meet you.

-All right, take care.

0:54:020:54:05

-We must meet again some time.

-Yeah, OK.

-Keep in contact.

-Yeah.

0:54:050:54:09

-I'll see you later.

-OK, bye.

-Bye.

0:54:090:54:11

'It was fun.'

0:54:110:54:13

What did you think of Alex?

0:54:130:54:16

He was nice.

0:54:160:54:18

-And do you think you'll see her again?

-Hopefully. It would be nice to see her again.

0:54:180:54:23

These are face cards.

0:54:250:54:27

They help people with autism to tell you how we're feeling.

0:54:290:54:37

This is how I felt when I saw Alex - excited.

0:54:370:54:43

And how do you feel now?

0:54:430:54:44

I feel...

0:54:440:54:46

very happy.

0:54:460:54:48

Is this the start of a beautiful relationship?

0:54:490:54:53

I don't know. It could be.

0:54:530:54:54

It's been three weeks since Tom became a boarder at his school's residential care unit.

0:55:000:55:07

He's also turned 16.

0:55:070:55:09

Things have got a lot better in the unit.

0:55:090:55:12

Well, I've got a room to myself where people don't come in every two seconds

0:55:120:55:18

and break something, cos it's got a lock on it.

0:55:180:55:21

They give me lots of freedom.

0:55:210:55:24

It makes me feel like I want to stay here for ever.

0:55:240:55:27

When I came back from my art exam, looked under my pillow and there's my mum's note that she wrote,

0:55:270:55:34

and I read it and I just laughed, cos she still talks to me like I'm little,

0:55:340:55:39

like the way she says at the end that my cat's waiting for me on my bed.

0:55:390:55:44

And also, she said she'd kiss me when I'm back.

0:55:440:55:48

I just want people to know all the problems I have

0:55:560:56:01

and disadvantages

0:56:010:56:03

that I have and just show them,

0:56:030:56:06

so if they meet someone like me

0:56:060:56:10

that they could understand them and not just, like,

0:56:100:56:15

take the piss out of them

0:56:150:56:18

and, like, make their lives a misery.

0:56:180:56:22

Most young adults take their freedoms for granted - they can choose their friends, stay out late, learn to drive and decide what they want to do as a career. But for people growing up on the autistic spectrum, life is very different. Stuck in a strange limbo between childhood and adulthood, they are unable to make these choices.

This documentary follows three people with autism at pivotal moments on the rocky road to being accepted as an adult. They are all fighting for independence and responsibility, but being frustrated by the shackles imposed on them by their disability, their families and the preconceived ideas of mainstream society.

23-year-old Oli has high-functioning autism (HFA) and is looking to find work. He is finding it tough as his condition means that he can't communicate or deal with pressure in the same way others can.

Thomas has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is approaching 16, the legal age of adulthood. As he does so, he is demanding more independence and wants to escape his family. But the freedom he is after is not forthcoming from his parents.

Alex, 24, is looking for love, but when you have the type of autism known as Asperger's syndrome, communicating and socialising can seem an impossible task.


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