CBeebies has broadcast its first ever episode of an animated TV series featuring a child called Pablo who is on the
autistic spectrum – and parents are loving it
The cartoon is called Pablo and follows the story of an autistic five-year-old who has a way – unique to him – of interacting with the world.
The main character Pablo deals with the anxieties and challenges he faces in everyday life by drawing a picture with his magic crayons, then entering the colourful world he’s just created.
That world is filled with talking animals who represent different aspects of his personality.
Pablo’s posse consist of Mouse, who is organised and a perfectionist, while Noa the dinosaur is gentle and kind but struggles with speech. They are joined by Tang, an orangutan who is not great at reading social cues or reading how a person is feeling.
Wren is an excitable bird who flaps her wings to calm down; she lacks concentration and is easily distracted. Then there’s Llama, she’s a thinker and doesn’t like displays of affection and she repeats things that people say, similar to Pablo in real life.
Finally, the last member of the gang is Draff. He loves facts and showing people that he knows them – his most commonly used phrase it ‘in point of fact’.
Every episode of Pablo sees the character taking on the real-life experiences of autistic children.
To help keep this authentic, the BBC work with autistic young writers and contributors to bring ideas to life in an honest and humorous way. Some of the daily situations – such as going for a haircut – are made easier when helped by his imaginary animal friends.
It’s well documented that autism has been under-represented in children’s TV, but autism specifically is tricky to portray with any degree of accuracy – no two autistic children are the same.
However, parents tuning in had nothing but praise for the new cartoon. One Facebook fan posted: ‘I’m glad there’s more programs on for children regarding Autism.
‘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.’
While another posted: ‘I’m so happy you’ve done this there is hope for awareness:)’
‘I am so impressed with the way you have portrayed these characters so thank you CBeebies 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻 👍🏻,’ said said another.
One posted simply ‘This is just so good I could cry 😭 😭 😭’.