A new autistic character named Max moves into Daniel Tigers Neighborhood.
The popular PBS Kids animated series has added a new person to the neighborhood. The audience will be introduced to Max, the autistic nephew of Teacher Harriet.
“We’re so excited to introduce Max to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and help even more kids feel represented and included on TV,” Chris Loggins, supervising producer at Fred Rogers Productions, told People Magazine in a recent excusive interview. “It’s also important for young viewers to understand that some friends have different needs and may learn, play and communicate in their own ways.”
Max displays many of the characteristics of autistic children. He is sensitive to lights and sounds, in addition to sometimes he has trouble meeting new people.
“It can also take more time for him to warm up to new friends and experience,” a press release states about the show, “and he sometimes prefers to play on his own.”
The show will follow Daniel and his friends, including Max’s big sister Amira, as they all learn how to navigate and become a part of Max’s world so that they can all play and learn together.
Max is voiced by 13-year-old Israel Thomas-Bruce, an autistic boy who is “an active, smart and ambitious teenager who is very social and loves to tell jokes, play basketball and video games and hang out with his friends,” PBS Kids said in a press release shared with People Magazine.
Thomas-Bruce was diagnosed with ASD at four-years-old.
Max will join Daniel Tiger and his friends in the classroom on April 5th. Make sure that you mark your calendars and tune-in because this new group of friends will help preschoolers learn that empathy and friendship go along way when meeting someone who is different than you.