Check out our exclusive interview with the writer Peter Bowker and Ilene Lainer, the President of the NY Collaborates for Autism:
Q: How did you come about with the title of the series?
Bowker: I don’t remember coming up with the title but there was a general thing that emerged. I embraced it and like any good writer claimed it as my idea. It’s A for autism, it’s a for acceptance. It also tells you something about the series that people won’t talk about it- people will not talk about the thing that really matters. We spend our life disguising the real stuff. The family in the series is articulate and smart but they still can not talk about the importance of it. From that point of view that’s where the title came from. The original series we bought the format from was called Yellow Peppers.
Q: Before you were a writer you were a teacher for children with disabilities; can you talk about that transition?
Bowker: I was always sending off scripts and novels that were rejected for 14 years. I was in London and then I went on a creative writing MA in UEA which was the first one set up in the UK run by Malcolm Bradbury and Ian McEwan had been on it. I went in as a novelist and another novelist said “you know you are in the wrong cause; you write everything through dialogue why don’t you do screenwriting?” And then I went for the screenwriting courses and it was like coming home and I got it. Then I got commission to write for a British hospital drama called Casualty like ER with a very low budget with a much less good looking cast and British teeth.
Q: How did you start The New York Collaborates for Autism?
Lainer: I have a 19-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum and a 22-year-old typically developing son and I want the same thing for both of them- a joyful happy productive life. And our son with autism wasn’t getting the same opportunities as our typically developing son and I thought I could make a difference so The New York Collaborates for Autism along with my co-founder Laura Slatkin and we have building services and support, innovative programs that help people living with autism right now.
Q: Did the series approach you?
Lainer: There was someone at the network was a supporter of ours for years, they have a child on the spectrum, they like the values of our work and they reached out to us and asked if we would watch the series and what we thought and give our feedback about some of the messaging. We meet together and our values were so consistently aligned that they asked us to be a sponsor and we couldn’t be happier.