Last night after I finished work, I made myself a nice cup of tea, put my feet up and turned on CBeebies. Yes you did read that right. You see I was very excited to watch their new show, Pablo and this was the first opportunity I had.
Pablo is about an autistic five and a half year old and his adventures. I was very impressed!
In the episode I watched, Pablo was on his way to his cousin’s birthday party in his mums car. The anxiety he was feeling was very cleverly portrayed so that by the time he got there, as a viewer I was aware that this party was worrying him and wasn’t going to be easy.
Pablos mum took him to the door and it opened but when Pablo saw all the people he dropped the present and ran back to the safety of his car.
When he was in the car, Pablo dealt with his anxieties by drawing. His drawing was magic and he was transported into the picture with his animal friends.
I think the animal friends are meant to represent different parts of Pablo’s personality and at the same time show viewers that the animals are all different and help each other. For instance the mouse couldn’t deal with noise. At one point the monkey made too much noise but when mouse complained, monkey apologised and covered mouse’ ears.
The animals helped Pablo to voice his anxieties about the party.
I really liked the idea of the animals because it made me remember when my son was a bit younger. He used to come home from school so stressed and upset that there was no way I could talk to him and get any information as to what was worrying him so at bedtime I used his teddies. He loved the teddies and when they spoke to him he would tell them what was wrong. Pablo reminded me of my son.
All sorts of common anxieties and sensory processing issues were discussed as reasons for being worried about the party, such as the noise and not being able to read people’s faces. It was a very real reflection on how my child might feel going to a party and I love how autistic children may be able to relate to the characters on this program but also how it will raise awareness to neurotypical children of what their friends go through.
In the end Pablos mum gives him a choice and tells him he doesn’t have to go in, which is great because sometimes to get that confidence to overcome his anxiety about trying, my son has needed to know that there is a way out if he needs it.
Pablo walked back to the door with his mum and gave his cousin the present and the picture he drew. His cousin seemed really pleased with the picture and Pablo, although avoiding eye contact, ended up smiling.
Pablos creators used people with autism in all aspects of making the program, from writing it to casting voice actors. It is written and then performed by people who daily face the struggles that Pablo does in the program.
I love how Pablo portrays autism in a positive way and is encouraging. It helps people understand autism and realise that with the right understanding people with autism can succeed in their own way. I wish this show was around when my son was CBeebies age and I might get him to watch it anyway so I don’t look so strange watching it by myself-after all I have got over 17 episodes left to watch!
Pablo is a new show on CBeebies, shown at 9am and repeated later in the day. It is also available on BBC iplayer. There are Pablo based games on the Cbeebies website These games are designed to help give understanding about how autistic children experience things differently.
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