Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Is Introducing A New Character With Autism

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood introduced a new character to the series, a young boy with autism.

If you’re not familiar with Daniel Tiger, the popular educational show for children is a modern, animated spin on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Each episode includes lessons for preschool-aged kids and provides demonstrations on how to interact with others and the world.

Much like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, the show aims to be inclusive and help kids learn about different cultures and types of people and situations.

Photo: Pixy

Now, on April 5th, Daniel Tiger is welcoming a new neighbor to the show: Max.

Max is Teacher Harriet’s nephew, a young boy with autism. According to a release from Fred Rogers Productions, Max is easily overwhelmed by certain stimuli, including loud sounds, bright lights, and uncomfortable fabrics. Additionally, he may need extra time to warm up to new people and situations.

Photo: YouTube/PBS Kids /caption]

Max will be joined in the show by one of his favorite people, his big sister, Amira. Besides her, Max also loves numbers, bugs, and buses.

PBS released a clip of a new episode featuring Max. In the clip, you can see Daniel going up to Max and trying to play with him. Max doesn’t respond to Daniel, as he’s so absorbed in his buses. Confused, Daniel asks Teacher Harriet why Max won’t talk to him or talk about anything other than buses. Teacher Harriet explains that sometimes Max only wants to talk about one thing. Watch the clip below:

In an interview with PEOPLE, the supervising producer at Fred Rogers Productions, Chris Loggins, says, “We’re so excited to introduce Max to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and help even more kids feel represented and included on TV. 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.”

According to PEOPLE, the voice of Max is played by 13-year-old Israel Thomas-Bruce. Like Max, Israel also has autism and is ambitious, funny, and social. The producers felt it was critical to have Max played by a real-life person. Beyond having someone with ASD voice the character, they also worked with a doctor specializing in autism and the Autism Society to ensure their character with ASD was developed appropriately in accordance with real-life.

[caption id="attachment_338072" align="alignnone" width="549"] Photo: YouTube/PBS Kids

The show aims to be more inclusive and only build-upon that inclusivity. As such, Max and his sister will be recurring characters on the show and will find a permanent home in the neighborhood of make-believe.

As the producer shared with PEOPLE, “There is always room for more friends in the Neighborhood!”

What do you think of Max? Let us know!

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