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We’re so excited that Matt Friedman, creator of the blog Dude, I’m an Aspie will be contributing his talents to the Flummox and Friends pilot! Our first episode will include an animated segment based on Matt’s beloved webcomic series, which chronicles the adventures of Fuzzy and his friends as they support each other through the often-confounding, sometimes silly situations of everyday life.
Matt’s characters and illustrations are a perfect compliment to the live action story line of our show and representative of the eclectic mix of music and animation we hope to incorporate in every episode. The world of “Dude” is funny, original, delightfully offbeat, and most of all, an honest and compassionate look at navigating the world when you’re “wired differently.”
Matt is an autism advocate, cartoonist, writer, and nonprofit fundraiser/marketer. Since 2009, he has authored “Dude, I’m An Aspie” depicting life with Asperger’s syndrome with honesty and humor. Matt self-identified as an Aspie in his mid-thirties. Recognizing his obsessive doodling in elementary school had been a special interest, he returned to drawing after 20 years. The first “Dude” cartoon was his own disclosure of Asperger’s to friends and family.
Professionally, Matt has worked as a grant writer, fundraiser, and marketer for over 10 years. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1997, but his interest in writing and service led him to the non-profit field. He is a believer in storytelling as a means of opening minds and advocating for a cause. Matt resides in Newark, Delaware, where in his spare time, he enjoys volunteering at a nearby independent living/farming community of adults with autism, messaging with friends, and obsessing over his favorite cartoon shows.
Matt was recently featured as part of The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism’s “Slice of Life” conversation series as a celebration of Autism Acceptance Month, and his blog was recognized by Babble as one of the Top 30 Autism Blogs for the second year in a row.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Flummox and Friends,” Matt says. “It was a natural fit, given that we both mix a quirky sense of humor with information that respects the intelligence of all ages. It reminds me of some of my favorite shows growing up, and I know it will be well-received by children on the spectrum and their families.”
Flummox and Friends was featured in two recent online articles.
Shannon Rosa interviewed Christa for The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism and Jean Winegardner, who writes theAutism Unexpected column for Washington Times Communities, also wrote an article on the show.
These are two fantastic online resources for the special needs community, so after you've checked out our article, be sure to add them to your RSS feed so you can become a regular reader.
This appeared originally on Jordan Sadler's Communication Therapy Blog.
Nearly two years ago, my good friend Christa Dahlstrom (whom I met initially through her excellent blog Hyperlexicon) approached me tentatively over brunch. It seemed she had an idea to share, and she was looking for advice. As it turned out, Christa's idea was to write a children's TV show, one that would help children like her own son Ben learn to improve his social-emotional development in a new way.
You see, many kids - like Ben - learn language in its gestalt form: in "chunks". They learn it through books and videos they find compelling, reading and watching over and over and over, and memorizing what they hear. Many, but not all, later repeat that language in real-time social interactions with other people. This is called delayed echolalia (here is a great post from blogger MOM-nos on her son's stages of echolalia). Still other kids like to re-enact scenes they've watched or read, enlisting other children and adults to play the roles of the characters. And, finally, there are a great many children who simply find it easier to process information that is presented both verbally and visually in a high affect way that makes them laugh. When they can watch it more than once, all the better.
Ben's mother had thought for a while that it would be incredibly beneficial if there were a show that her son found compelling which actually gave him strategies and models for appropriate social interactions - that he could watch with his parents and reenact, that his teachers and classmates could watch together and learn from, that his social skills coaches could watch with him and role play. Imagine the results if a child's whole team were to use the same vocabulary and draw from the same examples! And what if we added episode guides for the adults, with suggestions for expanding beyond each episode with role-playing exercises and other interactive ideas to extend the learning into real-time social interaction? It was clear that this was an idea with wings.
There are products targeting social emotional teaching on the market. But, thus far, there's nothing quite like the show Christa has created. Flummox & Friends is a live-action show that uses humor and playfulness and teaches without talking down to kids. When I read the first script I laughed out loud over and over and had a strong urge to send it to everyone I knew. We all recognize the difference between mainstream movies made for children that adults enjoy watching with our kids and those that we try to avoid. I knew right away that this would be a show parents would really have a great time watching, too. Families of kids who are on an atypical path of social-emotional development will watch, learn, and laugh together watching Flummox & Friends.
Liesl Wenzke Hartmann, MA, CCC/SLP of Communication Therapy San Francisco and I agreed to consult to the project as curriculum consultants and have worked closely with Christa to see that Flummox & Friends reflects therapeutic best practices and explains concepts in a way that our years of experience have proven works with children.
After many months of writing, rewriting, curriculum development, and consultation, the team has released a Kickstarter fundraising site in order to raise the money to shoot the pilot episode of Flummox & Friends. We have 42 more days to raise $30,000 and while we are off to a very strong start with many generous backers, it remains that this is a huge sum of money. I encourage each of you to visit our site, watch our short video - where you can get a glimpse of the show and a summary of our developmental, play-based philosophy - and help us out by backing our project and sharing it with other parents, educators, therapists, and anyone who has an interest in children with all kinds of minds.