Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is one of those shows that always teaches our children some important lessons. On the upcoming April 5th episode, the show will introduce yet another important topic: autism. We’re applauding the team behind the show for focusing on a very important type of representation while also delivering a crucial lesson on accepting differences to our children.
The episode will introduce viewers to a new character named Max, who has autism. Max is Teacher Harriet’s nephew and the show will navigate aspects of how Max prefers to play, as well as Daniel’s desire to connect with him. If the preview of Max’s introduction is any indication, Max’s presence will give young viewers a very important look at what it means to accept differences and, as the show’s characters often sing, “find a way to play together”.
The preview clip shows Daniel asking Max to help him build a castle and play with him, only to be crestfallen when the other child doesn’t immediately respond.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood | Daniel’s New Friend Max Exclusive Clip | PBS KIDS
“Sometimes he needs more time to understand the question and decide how to answer. Let’s give him some time,” Teacher Harriet explains. Max only wants to talk about busses while Daniel wants to build a castle, but after some guidance from Teacher Harriet, Daniel finds a way to play with his new friend.
“We’re so excited to introduce Max to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and help even more kids feel represented and included on TV,” Chris Loggins, supervising producer at Fred Rogers Productions, tells PEOPLE. “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.”
UGGA MUGGA! We are so excited for neighbors to meet Max! Click the link to check out this tigertastic piece from… https://t.co/ngvARqVV9p
— Daniel Tiger (@danieltigertv)
This is such an important piece of representation from the show, and we believe it will help all children learn to understand and navigate the different needs their friends may have. It’s also worth noting that the representation doesn’t just appear onscreen: Max will be voiced by a teenage actor named Israel Thomas-Bruce who was diagnosed with autism at age four, according to PEOPLE. This was of great importance to the team behind the show, and we’re applauding that choice.
Max will reportedly be a recurring character on the show and we can’t wait to see what other lessons this character will deliver to our children.