|Photo courtesy Sparkle and Family
[image: Sparkle, a little mixed-race girl, pointing at the title image
for the series Pablo, which is playing on a TV screen.]
Pablo is explained on the BBC website as “Five-year-old Pablo is on the autistic spectrum. He creates imaginary friends who come to life, and together they go on fun adventures and cope with tricky day-to-day situations.” (In the U.S., Pablo is available via Netflix.)
Sparkle is familiar with Pablo having watched it for the past few years; she watched two episodes to recap so she could give a fresh perspective.
First was ‘The Sparkles’: Pablo goes for a walk on the beach, and is enchanted by the beauty of the reflection of the sun as it glistens on the sea surface. As he paddles and splashes, the water ripples and sparkles. Pablo—as many of us autistics can—is able to capture the image and memorise it perfectly to take home and replay.
He ‘watches’ the the sparkles play and chase each other around a lamp light, and then it phases into the animation.
The sparkles play with and chase the animal characters, who all enjoy looking at them, Pablo comes and explains to them what they are.
Sparkle’s conclusion from this episode was that Pablo has an amazing imagination and things in his head to watch and enjoy. “The sparkles are pretty and they match my name!” She giggled.
We then watched ‘When Foods Collide.’ In this one, Pablo is out for something to eat at a cafe with his mum, and has communicated he wants egg and spaghetti hoops. It is brought to the table on a plate and Pablo is distressed to see the egg is being touched by the spaghetti hoop sauce. The episode lapses briefly into animation, with the egg trying to move away from the sauce. “Leave me alone!” It trills in horror. The scene then comes back to Pablo in real life, who expresses his displeasure by flapping his hands and refusing to eat the food.
At this point we stopped watching, as Sparkle had a lot to say: “When foods touch, it’s wacky, like its like two different foods combined! The taste is horrible and it makes my head dizzy.” She pauses, then continues, “When food touches I have to scrape it, as it’s disgusting,” she exclaims, wrinkling her nose in disdain.
Many autistics cannot tolerate the blending of textures or flavours when it comes to their meals. Sparkle has a plate that is divided into sections, so we can put her meals into the compartments and not distress her. This works well for her, and makes her meal times more enjoyable.
Sparkle enjoys Pablo, she likes that he’s an autistic child. She asked whether the actor is autistic, I didn’t know and she said, “If he’s not he must have a lot of fun pretending to be!” [Editor’s note: Yes, actor Jake Williamson is autistic!] She is happy to hear that autistic people voiced the characters and likes the animation. “Nice colours and a good message,” she states.
Pablo for the win!