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‘Inside Our Autistic Minds’ wins at Grierson Awards

Chris Packham stares into the camera. His hands are clasped beneath his chin, he is in a wooded area.

An Open University/BBC co-production, supported by academics from the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS), has been honoured at the prestigious Grierson Awards, which recognise innovative and exciting documentary films.

Inside Our Autistic Minds, presented by naturalist Chris Packham who was himself diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2005, won in the Best Science Documentary category.  The two-part series offers a revealing look into the minds of autistic adults, taking viewers on a journey to better understand what it is like to experience the world as a person with autism.

The judges praised the programme, saying:
“This beautiful and innovative documentary was described by the jury as totally enriching. Its insightful presenter and touching human stories alongside its exploration of the science of autism felt as though the documentary was exploring areas where others had not yet gone. The jury felt this film, illuminating and interesting throughout, had real potential to change lives.”

The academic consultants on the series were Professor of Education, Kieron Sheehy and Senior Lecturer in Education, Fiona Henry.

Keiron commented:
“This series is unique because it provided creative opportunities for autistic people to share authentic insights into their personal experiences. I believe it has positively contributed to enhancing public awareness and understanding of autism.”

Fiona added:
“It was a real learning experience to be part of an OU/BBC co-production, particularly one that so effectively demonstrates the OU’s ongoing commitment to centring the voices of young people and under-represented groups.”

The OU team has also produced educational materials to support the series: a free interactive which explores how technologies are being used to represent the lived autistic experience, and an interview with Chris Packham has been recorded for use in a new module, Introduction to Childhood Studies and Child Psychology.

The OU/BBC co-production Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland also won at the Grierson Awards, picking up Best Documentary and Best History Documentary. The film, supported by the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, explores the human side of the conflict, sharing intimate unheard testimonies from those who lived through the troubles.

Watch Inside Our Autistic Minds on BBC iPlayer.


This series is of particular relevance to:

Q23 BA (Honours) Childhood and Youth Studies

Q94 BA (Honours) Education Studies (Primary)

F70 Masters in Education (Inclusive practice)

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