Something wonderful happened last week.
Lazing in my pyjamas one evening, watching TV, I got a text from a friend saying her stepdaughter had spotted a video on Facebook she wanted to share with me but was worried whether I’d like it or not because it was about autism.
“Tell her to go ahead and share it,” I replied. And she did.
The video, Amazing Things Happen by London-based animator Alex Amelines, was a most charming little film that explained perfectly to children what autism is and how, with a little patience and understanding, those affected can achieve so much and even make friends.
It was the best thing I’ve seen to date that explains this complex condition to young ones.
I shared it on Twitter and received many replies from other parents of autistic children around the world telling me how wonderful they too found the film.
And through the wonders of modern technology, I was able to tweet Alex there and then to say thank you for taking two years of his time to put the animation together.
I asked him why he made the film. He said: “My story is not an exciting one but I’ll try to tell you what drove me anyway.
“A few years ago, my son’s school organised an assembly to help explain autism to the children, which struck me as a wonderful idea.
“The talk was interesting and the local expert who led it knew her stuff but it was limited by a lack of clear, visual materials.
“The children got most excited at a slide of Lego toys and enjoyed a scene from the animated series Arthur, where Arthur meets a boy who doesn’t make eye contact and only wants to talk about trains.
“My immediate thought was, ‘This could all be an animation, and it might even retain the children’s interest better that way’.
“I thought it could be useful for the school. Perhaps even a few more schools locally. I had no big plans beyond that.”
Alex released the film online and by day two it had been viewed thousands of times. After two weeks that number hit five million and grows every day.
Why? Because parents and schools everywhere have been crying out for something like this and I urge you to watch it and share it.
As well as tweeting Alex that night, I also tweeted Education Secretary John Swinney to ask if the film could be shown in Scottish schools.
I’m still waiting for a reply but I’m hopeful. Because I know Amazing Things can Happen when people try hard enough.