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PBS Kids Creating New Series About Characters With Autism

Released: 12/14/2023
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A screen shot of the PBS Series Carl The Collector.

PBS Kids is embarking on an exciting venture with their latest animated series, "Carl the Collector". This groundbreaking show is set to become the network's first to prominently feature a lead character with autism. The story revolves around Carl, an endearing and energetic raccoon who has a passion for collecting various items. Residing in the vibrant and inclusive Fuzzytown, Carl, alongside his friends, explores the journey of self-discovery and understanding others.

What makes Carl an intriguing character is his blend of qualities: he's warm-hearted, incredibly focused, and has a meticulous eye for detail. However, like many individuals on the autism spectrum, Carl faces challenges, particularly when dealing with anxiety in new situations or when his expectations aren't met. This nuanced portrayal aims to present a realistic and empathetic view of autism.

Fuzzytown is a melting pot of diversity, hosting an array of characters, both neurotypical and neurodiverse. This inclusion reflects the real-world diversity and promotes an understanding and appreciation of different perspectives and experiences. Zachariah OHora, the creative force and executive producer behind this series, envisions that Carl and his friends will encourage all children, whether neurodiverse or neurotypical, to embrace and celebrate neurodiversity. He sees this as a step towards acknowledging neurodiversity as a valuable and integral aspect of human diversity.

The show's development is a collaborative effort involving neurodiverse and neurotypical individuals, including writers, advisors, and voice actors. This inclusive approach ensures authenticity and sensitivity in the portrayal of the characters and their experiences.

Sara DeWitt, Senior Vice President and General Manager at PBS Kids, highlights the core values of "Carl the Collector": inclusion, empathy, and the development of social skills, all delivered with a mix of humor, heart, and captivating visual design. The show aims to offer children a unique opportunity to understand and honor individual differences, fostering a more inclusive mindset.

Children aged 4 to 8 are the target audience for "Carl the Collector", which is slated for its debut in the fall of 2024 on PBS Kids. This series is more than just entertainment; it's a medium to foster understanding, acceptance, and celebration of neurodiversity among the young audience, shaping a more inclusive future.

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