Thomas and Friends announce first autistic character

Thomas and Friends announce first autistic character

Children's TV show Thomas and Friends is getting its first autistic character.

Bruno the Brake car has been developed with the help of the National Autistic Society in the UK.

The character has been described as liking schedules and timetables and having a unique perspective on the world.

Bruno also has an encyclopedic knowledge of the railway, and can signal to other characters when he's overwhelmed, worried or excited by 'flapping his ladders' and has a lantern to 'indicate his emotional state'.


He sometimes wears ear defenders when there is a loud noise.

CEO of As I Am, Adam Harris, welcomes the fact the character will be voiced by a child with autism.

"What I think is really exciting about this initiative for Thomas and Friends is that we are going to see Elliot Garcia, a nine year old autistic boy, actually provide the voice of Bruno who is that autistic character in the show.

"Many children in our community love this show and I think it would be a great way to help them feel represented and valued within the community and also to educate other young children about autism; a form of diversity and a different way of thinking."


Adam Harris went on to say that children with autism often face isolation from their peers.

"The reality is that too often bullying, exclusion and loneliness are realities that we would see everyday in terms of people contacting our autism information line and across the community.

What I think is really exciting is when we give children knowledge and we show children what diversity looks like and we put this in a positive light and we celebrate it, it creates a really valuable opportunity to address some of those issues and hopefully to remove barriers to autistic people making friends."

Writer and Podcast host Stephanie Preissner, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 34, thinks this sort of representation will help children to better understand autism.


"We'll see a child out in the world, who is behaving in the same way, who maybe isn't making eye contact, who might be wearing ear defenders, who might be getting excited and flapping their hands and they'll think 'oh, this is like the character I seen in Thomas and Friends.

"It makes the whole thing much easier than for the first person the child meets having to be the person to teach them what autism is."

Bruno will start appearing in episodes of the latest series of Thomas and Friends series from later this month.