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This landmark series follows one of the most ambitious and uplifting projects ever undertaken by a group of autistic youngsters. Nine autistic youngsters have come together to attempt the apparently impossible feat of producing their own stage show, under the guidance of experienced theatre professionals who have never worked with an autistic cast before. As the youngsters battle to overcome the severely challenging nature of their conditions, remarkable changes are witnessed. And as they begin to collaborate, drawing on their skills and talents, the series reveals blossoming romances, increased independence, and the first tentative and daunting steps towards working together as a group and making lasting friendships, in some cases, for the first time in their lives. The series observes this transformative experience through the eyes of the youngsters and their parents as the cast prepares for the performance of their life in front of a packed audience at a top London theatre.
|S01E01||Episode 1||12/04/2010||The first episode of the series introduces the first five youngsters. Twelve-year-old Ben has high functioning autism: he's exceptionally bright but experiences acute loneliness. But as the project develops he starts to bond successfully with the other youngsters. Andrew, 17, is classically autistic, and despite limited social skills, he is very keen to have his first proper relationship with a girl. From day one he starts getting closer to Claire, 19, and takes her on the first date of his life: a night at the cinema. Claire is a talented singer and pianist who also struggles socially. Mollie, 11, is prone to tantrums and lengthy sulks, which test her mother's considerable patience. She suffers from PDA - Pathological Demand Avoidance - a pervasive developmental disorder with symptoms including mood swings, language delay and obsessive behaviour. A talented singer, Mollie was diagnosed with autism at four. Eleven-year-old Jozsef is more challenged by his autism, but his playfulness makes him endearing to others and soon turns him into the group joker.|
|S01E02||Episode 2||19/04/2010||The programme gets better acquainted with some of the cast members and learns more about the realities of their daily life. Jonathan, 12, was diagnosed with autism just 18 months ago after many troublesome years at school, where the teachers thought he was bright but difficult. Poor or late diagnosis is a common issue that affects many families living with autism, and Jonathan's mum had no idea that her son was on the spectrum. The project is an eye-opener for both Jonathan and his family, who have never before seen him interact with other children with autism. In his quest for independence, Alexander, 16, takes the Tube to the theatre on his own for the first time. It is a big breakthrough for this bright teenager, raised on a council estate by a single mother, and the start of a personal journey to face new challenges. Meanwhile, Mollie's mum elaborates on her reasons for taking part in the project: 'I wish the world was different and autism wasn't there. The whole reason for this is showing people how difficult life is with having a sibling, a child or a friend that is diagnosed with autism; to help them understand that they deserve a life as much as everybody else in the world.' These feelings are echoed by Jozsef's mum: 'You try not to worry but you're thinking 'where is he going to end up?'' As the youngsters begin to work together, drawing on their skills and talents, this ambitious and uplifting series reveals increased independence, blossoming romances, and the first tentative steps towards working together as a group and making friends, some for the first time. The programme observes the ups and downs through the eyes of the youngsters and their families as the cast prepares for a performance in front of a packed audience at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.|
|S01E03||Episode 3||26/04/2010||The young autistic cast receive the scripts of they play they've been creating together for the last two weeks. As the initial excitement abates, the directors start to realise the challenge of the task ahead: rehearsing and building on a script requires flexibility, but many autistic people find this hugely challenging. When 20-year-old Alex - a huge hip hop enthusiast - is asked to do a freestyle dance, he demonstrates his favourite hip hop moves. But when the directors ask him to contemplate trying something different, trouble ensues. It's not only change that the cast struggle with; the repetitive nature of rehearsing a scene over and over again also proves problematic for some. Can the directors circumnavigate all the challenges and get the cast to work on and memorise their parts? After three intensive workshops, how are they getting on? The hitherto disparate cast members have become a group of friends, but making and retaining friendships can be tricky for young people with autism, especially when coupled with the pressures of putting on a play. As Jozsef makes his first real friend ever, will Ben and Mollie's tumultuous friendship last the week? This episode also explores the home lives of some of the older cast members, looking at some of the day-to-day challenges of growing up with autism.|
|S01E04||Episode 4||10/05/2010||The final episode follows the young cast over the week leading up to the culmination of everybody's hard work: the performance. The cast are moving from the rehearsal room into the theatre where they will stage their final show. For many people with autism any change, such as a different environment, can bring about anxiety. Combine a new space with costumes, props and the task of learning a new script and it quickly becomes evident that this is not only a week of firsts for the cast members but also of some serious challenges to overcome. Will the cast get used to their new surroundings? Will they be happy to wear the costumes? Will Ben (12) take part in the dance he dislikes? Can Mollie (11) overcome her fear of being the centre of attention? As the cast become more nervous about the final show, will they still be able to work with one another? As the day of the performance dawns, everyone is apprehensive. As the lights go down on the 200 expectant audience members and the curtain rises, it's still uncertain what will happen next. The directors have done their best but now it's up to the cast...|