Co-creator and Speech Lanugage Pathologist Liesl Wenzke Hartmann had these reflections recently on watching Flummox and Friends with one of her students. 

I watched Flummox recently with a student and really loved seeing how much he connected with it. He is a moderately autistic 10 year old boy with delayed language and processing.

But he gets humor. He always has. So ever since I first met him at age 3, I've looked for opportunities to laugh with him.

My goals for him have changed over the years as he's grown, but I've always included these two goals for myself:

  • Make sure he does not lose his “spark.” 
  • Connect with him and his love of a good joke.

He’s gone from simple fart jokes to understanding that:

"It’s kind of funny when Wanda doesn’t respond to Suzie."

"It’s really funny that the inventors make a robot friend who is not what anyone expected."

"It’s really funny that Professor Flummox is so distracted and making loud crashes."

All of this humor has reached him and piqued his interest enough to start to get him to think about how some of his actions are unexpected and might seem funny to others.

And this gentle, humorous approach continues to increase his understanding of himself and his world and those of us who are in it with him – loving him, appreciating him, laughing with him and above all trying to connect.

Now what kid wouldn’t want to leave their safe inner world and connect with us on those terms?

Do you have a story about the way Flummox and Friends has made a connection with a child you know? Tell us about it at info@flummoxandfriends.com! 


 

One of the inspirations for Flummox and Friends came from a certain kind of conversation I found myself having over and over again. At the time, I was blogging quite a bit: writing about raising a kid on the autism spectrum and sharing experiences about learning strategies worked for well for him. This stuff often came up in my conversations with other parents, regardless of whether they had a special needs kid or not.

Sometimes I would describe the types of things my son was working on - perspective taking, conversational skills, managing the expression of emotion. I talked about how he was learning it in the context of school activities as well as social skills groups of same-age kids where play is used to build these foundational skills.

Then - and this happened more times than I can count - a parent with a typical child would say something like, "Why aren't they doing this for every kid?" or "Can my kid get something like that?"

It's been pretty clear to me that families like mine with file folders full of IEP paperwork at home aren't the only ones who care about and recognize the importance of social and emotional development for our kids. 

We developed Flummox and Friends in the hopes that it would appeal to lots of different kinds of kids and families. We didn't set out to develop an autism intervention or a special education product, but instead, a comedy for families that's a springboard for learning, connecting, talking about challenges, differences, strengths...and laughing together. Because we believe that social and emotional learning should feel positive and fun.

So, I was delighted to discover a report called "Missing Piece" by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) that talks about the essential role that social and emotional learning plays for every kid; how it actually boosts learning and can transform a school culture. 

Then a few days later, I caught this wonderful Edutopia video featuring Pamela Randall, CASEL's Director of Practice talking about these issues, along with educators who are applying best practices for social emotional learning in their classrooms. 

I can't help feeling there is a movement afoot to bring social and emotional learning into the center of curriculum, into the heart of school culture, and we're excited at the possibility of being part of that!

 -Christa Dahlstrom