A superhero kid with autism shines in new PBS Kids' series
NEW YORK - PBS Kids announced they are launching a new kids superhero series that features a diverse group of charactes.
The animated series, named 'Hero Elementary', will feature four superhero students learning how to master their special powers. One kid can fly but is afraid of heights, a girl with the power to teleport and a boy who can create forcefields out of bubbles. Of the superheroes, one is a boy with an array of cool gadgets who is also autistic name AJ Gadgets.
The creators of the show say they were subtle about how they're portraying AJ who is on the high-functioning end of the spectrum. AJ doesn't like loud noise or wet clothes. He also doesn't like to be apart from his beloved backpack, but as a valued member of the team, he always comes to the rescue.
The series dives into specific themes as the characters confront various missions. A helpful teacher encourages them to keep finding solutions even if they don't succeed at first.
PBS Head of Content, Linda Simensky, says she was drawn to AJ's inclusion and how the show encourages kids to solve their own problems.
AJ’s teammates are aware of his needs and preferences and the show’s creators hope the show can teach empathy and normalize the idea that all kids are different.
The series is designed for kids ages 4-7, and premieres Monday on PBS stations, the PBS Kids 24/7 channel and PBS Kids digital platforms. Each episode will run for about 11 minutes.