Superheroes are symbols of people who are known for their heroic actions and characteristics and moral beliefs. People admire heroes for who they are and the difficulties they face. A show on PBS Kids called Hero Elementary features young students with abilities and even powers. It takes place in a school where we meet four students who are learning to use their powers, among other lessons as well. There’s a girl who can fly . There’s a girl with the power to teleport and super strength, and a boy who creates bubbles. And there’s a boy with an array of cool gadgets who is on the autism spectrum. AJ Gadgets is a character who is high-functioning autistic.
The creators of Hero Elementary Carol-Lynn Parente and Christine Ferraro, who are known to work on children television shows like Sesame Street, best want to portray AJ Gadgets as a young hero who doesn’t like loud noises or wet clothes or to be apart from his beloved backpack, but has a talent for building machines and gadgets and who has the power of thought projection. The creators feel that there is so much strength in the idea of portraying a kid on the spectrum as just one of the kids and not making a huge deal about his autism. The series teaches scientific principles as the characters confront various missions and problems. All the while, a helpful teacher encourages them to keep finding solutions even if they don’t succeed at first, teaching such skills as observing, investigating, testing and predicting. Linda Simensky has worked for cartoon shows like Samurai Jack and Poweruff Girls and said that she was drawn to AJ’s inclusion and the show’s message of kids solving their own problems. It brings a message of positive diversity to anyone; anyone can be a hero.
Check out more on the show here: https://pbskids.org/heroelementary