By Danielle Allen - Service Administrator
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is still a disorder that is vastly looked over. It is a complex disorder that has a variety of levels from mild escalating up to severe. Luckily today, although overlooked, people are becoming more aware of it and that it isn’t just a child misbehaving in the supermarket. As a mother I have found it hard trying to explain to my children why other people may act or look a little different to them and have found it such a relief that Cbeebies cover a wide range of disabilities and disorders in their TV shows or with their presenters. From previously working in an NHS setting providing paediatric training and now working in a Speech and Language Therapy setting for paediatrics, I have had some exposure to ASD children, but it wasn’t an area I was particularly knowledgeable in until doing my own research and then discovering the Cbeebies show Pablo which was released late 2017.
After work I often join my children on the sofa for a cuddle and to relax to the sound of the TV in the background whilst they tell me about their day at school. It has become routine now that once I get in we will put on Cbeebies for the 5.45pm show of Pablo. This is incredibly child friendly and explains in a simplistic way about the many troubles someone who has autism could be experiencing and why they react the way they do. Even with Pablo's autism being as mild as it is, the programme helps outline what autism is. Not only is it informative for the child watching but also for us as the parent or carer. In the show each character represents a different area of autism and although all those who have autism do not necessarily show all areas of it, it is a guide to and broad representation of autism.
Noa the dinosaur is great at problem solving but finds it hard to read others facial expressions
Llama loves to repeat things others say and has a keen eye for detail
Draff the giraffe loves to learn facts and is often heard saying “in point of fact”
Mouse doesn’t like loud noises or crowded places but is very organised and is also a perfectionist
Tang the orangutan is hyperactive but also isn’t good at reading social cues or other people’s feelings
Wren often is seen flapping her wings to calm down, she also lacks concentration and is easily distracted
Many parents and others who have ASD have praised Cbeebies on social media since the premiere of the show in October 2017, leaving comments on Twitter such as:
'My son Jaime is Autistic and I firmly believe that exposing children early to Autism and Autistic behaviour helps children become more accepting of their Autistic peers. Can't wait to watch the show with the little ones.'
'I'm so happy you've done this there is hope for awareness :)'
‘I never thought I'd reach that point in my life where I started watching CBeebies again without kids. But, being like him, I am just compelled to watch #pablo. And after a few months, I just feel I have to say, @CBeebiesHQ, you done good. #ActuallyAutistic’
‘Pablo is the most moving, un-politically correct & realistic show 4 #Autism makes me cry!’
Another parent simply posted 'This is just so good I could cry’ with a variety of crying emojis.
It is amazing that something as simple as a show can have such a positive impact on the ASD community and help spread awareness in such a creative way that is easy to understand and enjoyable to watch. What makes the show even more remarkable and relatable is that the young boy who plays Pablo is an ASD child himself! We have seen Cbeebies do this with many topics, Justin Fletcher’s shows for example, Something Special being a prime example for making children aware that everyone is different and special in their own way. Even though my children are still very young at the ages 3 and 5, I am glad they’re getting exposure to the disabilities and difficulties of others through the shows they see on Cbeebies, unlike my childhood growing up where there was very little exposure.
So as a mum of two, I applaud Cbeebies, they have a household of Pablo super fans! I’d also like to applaud them with their wide range of shows exposing children and families to the different cultures and disabilities that are in world around them, I’m sure I’m not alone with that thought!