Expert: New Engine Puts Thomas and Friends on Track with Autism Community

Theo makes his debut in a new film titled “Journey Beyond Sodor,” scheduled to be released in the United States on DVD on Tuesday.

Theo

Theo

Courtesy:
Thomas & Friends

Thomas & Friends is set to introduce a new line of "experimental engines," including Theo, who is described as genuinely kind and caring, but with an awkward habit of blunt speaking. He also has a geared drive system that often does not run smoothly, making sudden jolts when his cogs jam. Each characteristic is a subtle reference to traits on the autism spectrum.

Theo makes his debut in a new film titled "Journey Beyond Sodor," scheduled to be released in the United States on DVD on Tuesday (August 22).

Expert

Wesley Dotson, assistant professor of educational psychology and co-director of the Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research, Texas Tech University College of Education, wesley.dotson@ttu.edu or (806) 834-0783

Quotes

  • "More people have been diagnosed with autism today than ever before. More people today know someone who's on the autism spectrum than ever before, and awareness has been an important part of how the field has gotten there."
  • "I think one of the biggest misconceptions about autism is that it is somehow a disability that means you can't have a life. That's not the case at all."
  • "People with autism can get married, they can have a job, they can drive a car, they can live in the community, and children with autism can go to school and learn and be just as academically and socially successful as their peers. They just need help to get there."
  • "When you have a character, who appears and shows them a possibility, you're giving a model, you're giving something a parent can talk about and say 'Hey, if Theo can do this, you can do this,' 'Hey, Theo did that, you do that.'"

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The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research

The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research

The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research is a comprehensive, life span center with a three-fold mission:

  • Providing services and support to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families across West Texas and the surrounding area
  • Offering cutting-edge training to teachers, families and other professionals to provide effective and evidence-based services and support to individuals with ASD
  • Conducting significant, sponsored interdisciplinary research to better understand and overcome the lifelong causes and effects of ASD in ways that improve functionality and quality of life for people with ASD and their families 

The Burkhart Center is part of the Texas Tech University College of Education.

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