This heartwarming documentary will be one of the most touching films you watch this year
If you haven’t yet watched the intimate BBC documentary Richard and Jaco: Life With Autism – make sure you don’t miss out. When Waterloo Road actor Richard Mylan’s 11-year-old son, Jaco, was diagnosed with autism, he was thrown into personal turmoil. He admits he had to rethink his hopes and dreams for his son when he was just four years old.
The documentary follows the pair for several months, as Jaco moves from primary to secondary school, and tells a personal tale of what it is like to live with autism from both a child and the family’s perspective.
“I felt so much time, effort and resources go into a child with autism all through their school life, and then, when a child hits 16 or 18, it feels like there is no plan,” says Richard. “And my concern was – if there is a plan – then it’s not clearly signposted. We’re not aware of it as parents.
“I wanted to go on a voyage of discovery to find out what’s available for my son, and if there is a plan after the school setting, what the options are.”
Jaco struggles with noise and often wears protective headphones – one of the things he loves most is the order and routine of his local Cardiff Market, where he is a regular visitor at closing time. The programme team followed the pair one evening as the stalls were closing and it soon becomes clear that he enjoys watching the elements there that he is familiar with. Jaco even says he wants to be a security guard there when he grows up.
“I hope the programme makes parents who are going through the same thing feel a little better about the future – and that it’s not like a door at the edge of a cliff in terms of support,” says Richard. “I definitely feel a lot better having gone though the process because now I’m aware that stuff is available. I think the point of the programme is that we have to go out and look for it.”
He also adds Jaco enjoyed being filmed for the show: “He lives his life through a lens a little bit,” says Richard. “Because of his autistic mindset, things on repeat are very appealing to him, so he likes being videoed. When he had a big TV camera on him, he was in his element!”
Watch online here, or tune in on BBC1 next Tuesday, 11.20pm.