Any child can present with behaviour that we might find challenging – it’s a natural part of exploring boundaries. But for parents of children and young people with autism spectrum conditions it can be particularly challenging to find effective ways of managing these behaviours. Attempts by the child or young person to communicate their needs and wishes can present via behaviours which may not be easy to interpret or to support.

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Enter Pablo

Paper Owl Films has stepped in with a series of children’s animations based around a five-year-old boy who is on the autism spectrum. Clients include Netflix, Universal Kids, National Geographic, CBeebies and Nickelodeon. The “Pablo” animations were nominated for a Children’s Bafta in 2018 and that year also won ‘Best Marketing Campaign’ in the European Diversity Awards. Gavin sees “Pablo” as the highlight of his career so far: a second series has already been commissioned by CBeebies, and merchandising and books are in the pipeline.

Pablo is a boy who loves art and uses magic crayons to turn challenges into exciting adventures. But for Gavin he is more than this: the series delivers key messages around autism awareness, and Gavin is keen to ensure that Pablo is a champion for the condition. The films can be watched by parents and children together, and characters such as Llama (who is non-verbal) and Draff (a giraffe who gets agitated and anxious when he does not know what is going on) will resonate with many families. The show’s Head Writer, Andrew Brenner, has ensured that every episode is grounded in the real-life experiences of autistic children.

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Building Awareness

Having a cast made up of characters who are on the autism spectrum has meant that “Pablo” has gained recognition worldwide. With autism awareness training for teachers now a key element of Initial Teacher Training it would seem that opportunities for a better understanding of autism are greater than ever. Behaviour specialists such as can also provide valuable support for parents of children on the autism spectrum who feel they would like a greater understanding of what their child is trying to communicate.

Understanding what children are wanting to tell us can be a challenge for any parent: Pablo and his colourful friends take us one step closer.