Texas Tech University

'Thomas & Friends' Debuts New Character With Autistic Traits

Wisconsin Public Radio

September 5, 2017

Wisconsin Public Radio - The long-running television program "Thomas & Friends" (originally "Thomas the Tank Engine") has been a hit among children for decades. The show has also been particularly popular for children on the autism spectrum. And Thomas' latest adventure introduces him to a bevy of new trains, including one who has autistic-like characteristics, named Theo.

One professor of educational psychology said he thinks the introduction of Theo is a good first step for the show, noting the support for the program in the autistic community for years.

"For the creators of the show to acknowledge that relationship with a community that cares about them in a way that offers children on the spectrum a character that they can relate to and see themselves in, it's really encouraging and I enjoy seeing it," said Wesley Dotson the professor and co-director of the Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research at Texas Tech University.

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