Young Meopham film-maker putting autism in focus
PUBLISHED: 10:33 14 June 2013 | UPDATED: 10:33 14 June 2013
Autism is often misunderstood, but a new film made by young people who have the condition aims to reveal what it means and how it affects their daily lives.
Patrick Haswell, a student at Helen Allison School, in Longfield Road, Meopham, is a campaigner for the National Autistic Society (NAS). He and nine other autistic young people have produced the animated film to highlight problems of stress and anxiety experienced by those who have the lifelong developmental disability.
They received a taste of the Hollywood lifestyle when it premiered at central London’s Curzon Theatre in March, as they were interviewed, filmed, had their photos taken and took part in a question and answer session.
The 17-year-old said: “It’s important that people understand what it’s like to be a young person living with autism and I think we achieved that with the film.
“It was really fun to make, especially as I got to work with a lot of my friends who are young campaigners.
“I learnt a lot about film-making and really hope that lots of people watch it and become more aware of young people with autism, like me.”
The animation was one of three short films shown at the Curzon as part of production company Chocolate Films’ Point of View project, supported by NAS.
Patrick, who lives in Oakhurst Avenue, Bexleyheath, with his parents Miriam and Andy and his 12-year-old brother Conor, was trained in the use of the film-making equipment. The young people were in charge of everything from directing to filming and editing. The animation was stop-motion, the technique that used to make the Wallace and Gromit films.
Patrick added: “Young people like myself can help increase understanding of autism. There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding it and hopefully the NAS and young campaigners can look to change that.
“Making films is something I love doing and it’s something I’d love to pursue in the future, especially if I get to do it with my friends.
“Our film was the last of the three to be shown – save the best until last, I say! We tried to make the main character horrid before making him more likeable to trick the audience.”
Patrick’s mum Miriam, 45, gave an insight into what it means to have a child with autism and said the project has been extremely beneficial to her son.
“A lot of people don’t realise how much having an autistic child can change your life,” she said. “We need to make sure he’s always prepared for what he’s going to be doing and we try not to spring anything on him. If we do, he gets nervous and agitated.
“It’s been great for him to spread the word of how autism affects people and also to meet other young people like him.
“All of his family are really proud of him and he’s a great ambassador for autism.”
For information or to get involved with young campaigners visit autism.org.uk.