It’s sort of been a little dream of mine that a kids’ show would exist one day just for children with autism. I dream of such things not just because I’ve worked so long in the children’s TV industry and have a child with autism, but also because all the research points to how people with autism are so tuned in to visual and auditory stimuli. If kids with autism love TV so much, certainly the medium should be used in a positive way. There are plenty of apps out there for kids with autism, so why not a TV show? It seems sort of obvious that someone should make one.
Enter Flummox and Friends – an off-beat, live-action TV comedy project that helps kids navigate the social and emotional world in a lighthearted way. My dream is a reality!
Well, not exactly. Not yet.
I first learned of Flummox and Friends via the wonderful world of social media, and was immediately drawn in after viewing the trailer. (Watch it yourself, below.)
Recently, I had a phone conversation with the creator, Christa Dahlstrom. As a mother of a child with Aspergers, she had the same thought I did about a television show. Her son is incredibly creative and loves to act things out, but has trouble navigating social scenarios in real life. She wanted to create a show that he would love – something zany and fun to watch, but with helpful hints about social interactions.
Shannon Des Roches Rosa, a fellow mom blogger of a child with autism posted a great interview of Christa this week, where she explains what the creative process was like for her. My favorite line from that interview is this: “Most people are familiar with the 1-in-88 number (autism prevalence in children in the US) and we see the show as for the “3 or 4 or 5 in 88.” I spoke at length with Christa about this idea. She described how when she told other parents that her son gets therapy sessions to work on social interactions, the other parents would all react with enthusiasm, saying things like, “My son is not autistic but… he could really benefit from something like that!” There are plenty of socially awkward kids or kids who have sensory issues out there without a diagnosis of autism. Let’s face it: We could ALL use a little social-and-emotional interaction training.
Christa teamed up experts in social communication (Jordan Sadler and Liesl Wenzke Hartmann) to create the curriculum for the show. They call their curriculum “Tune in, Connect, Have Fun” – with the idea that each episode will focus on one or more of the goals they set. What I love especially (as an adamant co-viewer) is that for their pilot episode they also created a guide for parents watching at home with their kids and another guide for teachers and therapists who want to use it in a school setting.
A pilot of the show was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, along with Christa’s own money. They are currently looking for some investors that could turn the show into a web series or a tablet app.
Want to help out? Watch the pilot of the show (below) and share it with friends. Join their Facebook page. If you watched the show, take their survey and tell them what you think. And of course, leave your comments right here!