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Does Travis Smith have autism in real life? Actor plays Mark Berwick in The A Word

Travis Smith has reprised his role in The A Word as Mark Berwick (May 26).

He plays Sophie’s autistic teenage son who has suddenly developed a desire to join the army.

Although the talented 19-year-old actor does an incredible job of portraying Mark and his condition, does Travis Smith have autism in real life?

Here’s everything you need to know…

Travis Smith plays Mark Berwick in The A Word (Credit: BBC)

Does Travis Smith have autism?

Travis was diagnosed with both autism and Asperger’s syndrome while he was in year five at primary school.

“Luckily, my mum worked with autistic people and so recognised it early, when I was about three or four,” he said.

READ MORE: Does Max Vento have autism in real life? The A Word star plays Joe

“I received a formal diagnosis at nine or ten, even though we knew for years.”

Travis has said he identifies more with Joe’s character than Mark (Credit: BBC)

During his school years, he suffered with terrible anxiety and would regularly suffer from panic attacks.

He was misunderstood by his teachers and seen as “naughty” which made his challenges even tougher.

Sadly, this meant he regularly missed school.

But Travis always had a passion for acting and attending youth theatre groups.

Travis joined the cast of The A Word in series two (Credit: BBC)

How did Travis Smith get his part in The A Word?

Travis’ mum came across an advert for the part of Mark while reading a newspaper by chance.

It said the BBC were looking for autistic actors to come for auditions.

READ MORE: The A Word series 2 RECAP – here’s what happened last season

Although he loved acting, Travis didn’t jump at the idea because of his anxiety.

However, after some gentle encouragement from his mum, he decided to give it a go.

Fans have also questioned if Joe actor Max Vento has autism in real life (Credit: BBC)

“[My mum] is part of lots of parent groups,” Travis explained.

“I didn’t think I would have a chance. I applied online and they called me to London for an audition.”

The rising star then drove down to the Big Smoke where he auditioned for Susan Tully, who directs The A Word, the show’s casting director Andy Prior and producer Jenny Frayn.

“I was shortlisted a while after and got a call on a Saturday morning – I didn’t believe my mum at first,” he added.

Fast forward a few weeks and Travis found himself on set with Lee Ingleby and Morven Christie in the Lake District playing Mark in series two of The A Word.

Alison introduces Joe to Ben in The A Word tonight (Credit: BBC)

What happens in The A Word tonight?

It’s a big day for Joe this evening (May 26).

Alison (Morven Christie) organises a sponsored walk for for his classmates to raise money for the school.

READ MORE: Who is Ben Chambers in The A Word? Here’s why Alison’s new love interest may look familiar

Planning the event brings gives her a chance to bond with Joe’s teacher Heather (Julie Hesmondhalgh).

During a heart-to-heart, the pair begin to open up one another and their conversation leaves Alison contemplating a new career.

Is Paul ready to see Alison move on? (Credit: BBC)

When the big day arrives, the pressure off being centre of attention proves too much for Joe (Max Vento) and he refuses to leave his room.

However, Rebecca (Molly Wright) turns up and the mother-to-be saves the day – but there’s clearly something on her mind.

READ MORE: Why did Paul and Alison split up in The A Word?

Later on she finally comes clean to Alison about what’s been worrying her.

Elsewhere, Paul (Lee Ingleby) is forced into a situation where he has to spend time with Ben (David Gyasi)..

Alison then finds out she isn’t the only one that’s moved on from her marriage.

What has Travis Smith said about The A Word?

Travis has been full of praise for the portrayal of autism in The A Word.

During an interview with the BBC, he explained that the condition is often misunderstood.

He said: “The first thing that normally comes to mind when media, TV and film represent autism is Rain Man. There’s always been this stereotyping and lack of understanding.

READ MORE: Who is Ben Chambers in The A Word? Here’s why Alison’s new love interest may look familiar

“Autism is everywhere and it’s important for a television show to show the public we’re not all just Rain Man. I’m terrible with maths! Acting is my thing.”

While filming the second series of The A Word, Travis played on his own past experiences when acting out Mark’s meltdown.

A meltdown can be triggered by anxiety or over-stimulation in people with autism.

Mark is Sophie’s son in The A Word (Credit: BBC)

Behaviours can include crying, shouting and even self-harm.

“I cried in my hotel room after and not just because I whacked my knuckles but because it was such a crazy thing to act out what I used to be like,” Travis added.

“But I have to praise The A Word because they weren’t afraid to show how effective meltdowns can be.”

READ MORE: The A Word: Julie Hesmondhalgh delights fans as Joe’s teacher Heather

Although Travis plays Mark in the show, he has admitted that he realties more to the character Joe.

“Despite Mark being what I was like a few years ago, Joe resonates most,” he explained.

“Listening to music, needing a schedule. And Max, who plays Joe is exceptional.”

The A Word is on BBC One, Tuesdays at 9pm.

You can catch up on previous episodes via BBC iPlayer.

Have you been watching The A Word? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think of the new series.

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