Richard Mylan features in a BBC Wales documentary 'Richard and Jaco: Life with Autism'

RICHARD AND JACO: LIFE WITH AUTISM

When Richard Mylan's son, Jaco, was diagnosed as autistic, he was thrown into personal turmoil. He had to re-think his hopes and dreams for his son when he was just four years old.

Now Jaco is 11, Richard's biggest concern is what the future holds for him.

Richard and Jaco: Life With Autism is an intimate documentary that follows them both for several months as Jaco moves from primary to secondary school. It tells a personal story of life for autistic children and their families.

"I felt so much time, effort and resources go into an autistic child all through their school life," said Richard about his motivation for making the programme, "and then, when a child hits 16-18, it feels like there's no plan. And my concern was - if there is a plan - then it's not clearly signposted. We're not aware of it as parents.

"So 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. He likes windfarms, rugby and washing machines - and one of the things he loves the most is the order and routine of Cardiff Market, where he's a regular visitor at closing time.

The programme team followed him one evening as the market stalls were closing. Jaco clearly enjoys watching the elements there he's familiar with, but his need for reassurance and repetition is almost never-ending, requiring a lot of love and patience from Richard.

"Before Jaco came along I was very selfish - a 'typical man', really," said Richard. "I only thought about myself and I had very little patience, so Jaco's taught me an incredible amount of patience, and actually he's really changed me fundamentally - for the better."

Jaco says he wants to be a security guard in the market when he grows up, but with only 15% of Welsh autistic adults in employment, Richard wants to know if he will ever get the chance to have the job of his dreams. Whatever that may be.

And then there are even more complicated questions around matters like finding love and the prospect of having a family of his own. At the moment these are all unknowns for Jaco, but Swansea-born Richard is determined to find out more about his future prospects, options and support.

Richard Mylan features in a BBC Wales documentary 'Richard and Jaco: Life with Autism'

He says the process of making the programme was a positive experience, and he's keen to emphasise that parents with similar concerns to his should find the programme encouraging.

"I hope the programme makes parents who are going through the same thing I've been going through 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," said Richard. "I definitely feel a lot better having gone through the process, because now I'm aware that there is stuff available. I think the point of the programme is that we have to go and look for it."

He also says Jaco enjoyed being filmed for the programme - and he thinks it will be a useful resource for his son in the longer term.

"Jaco lives his life through a lens a little bit," said 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!

"Because he's the main focus in the programme he's definitely going to watch it. I think he'll watch it hundreds and hundreds of times over, over the next few years - and probably throughout his lifetime.

I think he'll find it incredibly useful. He'll learn a lot about himself through watching it."

RICHARD AND JACO: LIFE WITH AUTISM
Produced by ie ie Productions
  • Premiere broadcast: Tuesday 4 April 2017, BBC Wales 9.00pm
  • First nationwide broadcast: Tuesday 2nd May 2017, BBC One 11.20pm

 

     

 

RICHARD AND JACO: LIFE WITH AUTISM in the Media

 


Watch Richard and Jaco on BBC Breakfast

 

- Check out the charities that Richard works with -

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