Thoughts: Love on the Spectrum (ABC TV)

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I was rather lucky to spot the fact that Love on the Spectrum was airing on ABC TV (Australia) when it first actually appeared free to air. I was (sort of) reluctant to see it, as shows that dive deep into children and young adults with ASD exposes my sensitivities to the subject because of my autistic daughter, but Jenny and I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad we did.

To quote the marketing, the 4-part series is about how “Seven singles take their first steps into the world of dating; this uplifting four-part documentary follows young adults on the autism spectrum as they explore the unpredictable world of love and relationships.” For me, this is so much more. For Jenny and I, it was very personal on many levels.

The series does follow seven singles, but also provides glimpses of other young adults on the spectrum, exposing the viewer to their dilemma’s, hopes, aspirations, disappointments, challenges, and most important of all, humanity. Some of the individuals are more affected by their challenges than others, and this is important for viewers who haven’t been exposed to ASD in their lives to any meaningful degree – it helps us understand the reason why it is a ‘Spectrum’. Nevertheless, there are common issues that all the singles face, and these resonated with us profoundly.

Jenny and I couldn’t help (and gladly did) laugh out loud on numerous scenes in the series, not because we were laughing at the singles, but because many of the quirky or awkward situations they were in could so easily be applied to our daughter, or be smoothly extrapolated to a future version of our child. As parents of a high functioning autistic daughter, we have had to deal with the frustrating and emotional scenarios we face with her almost on a daily basis, but we also bathe in the love and affection she brings to our collective world… and the hilarious moments when something out of the blue occurs by way of a throw-away statement, or quirky action taken. Those unexpected, funny moments were concentrated in this documentary series – and uplifted us to no-end.

Not everything was uplifting, however, and I was glad this was the case. All of these young people were articulate to some degree or another – some to a high degree – and their loneliness, their craving to have a life-partner, and in some cases their expectation that it will come to nothing, is heart-breaking and gathers dark, uncertain clouds over the horizon for our daughter’s prospects. Nevertheless our daughter’s future – be it her material security, or her emotional needs – is always first and foremost in our minds, and in our life-priorities. We, like the tone of this wonderful documentary series, have hope.

The last episode will be aired soon, but the first three were, as I’ve outlined above, a mishmash of insight into these young peoples’ lives, uplifting moments that spring hope for them, and a degree of pathos – empathy – that cuts a little deeper for those parents who have autistic children, and of course for those on the spectrum who watch the series. And yes, natural, genuine humour for those in the know.

I would recommend this documentary series to everyone – whether it be an educational experience, or an aid to those who are close to (or who are on) the spectrum to offer hope for fulfilling lives.

Produced by Eye Spy Productions Pty Ltd Trading As Northern Pictures (producers: Karina Holden Jenni Wilks; executive producer: Karina Holden)
Directed by Cian O’Clery
Writers: Karina Holden Cian O’Clery

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