Author Joni Brown
image from Choutette Publishing
I am not proud that I’m a bit of a Caillou expert. My daughter, living with autism has been a fan of the children's TV show for 14 years now. Most parents can't even spell his name and would love to avoid the show. They go to great lengths just to get through their child’s Caillou phase and introduce other palatable shows.
Caillou is a four-year-old fascinated with the world around him. He lives with his mom, dad and little sister Rosie. The grandparents have a strong connection too, as they whisk Caillou off on big adventures like to the zoo and parks. However, this little character comes off to parents as whiny and annoying. Four-year-olds just like Caillou is trying to live a full life figuring out that the world and preschool is hard work!
Some urban legend says the main character has cancer because he is bald. This is false. The TV show as it turns out is based on the illustrated children’s book from when Caillou was only a nine-month-old baby without hair. The creators thought the character as he grew older with hair growth would be unrecognizable so they kept him bald. Also, a side note from the publishers of Caillou, Choutette Publishing explained on their site, “Caillou’s baldness may make him different, but we hope it helps children understand that being different isn’t just okay, it’s normal.” source, http://www.chouette-publishing.com/ENT
Enough history lesson on Caillou.
So, why does my 14-year-old with autism worship the bald character so much? From my sleuthing and trying to understand why she still watches such shows like this one, Curious George, Dora the Explorer, Barney and Care Bears is understandable.
The predictability and a sense of control are reassuring to her. Over the years and banking over thousands of Caillou hours, she knows every episode and predicts what the start middle and ending will be.
Her world and living with autism, for the most part, is full of sensory overload. Socializing and communication issues such as eye contact and body language are challenging. Anxiety consumes her daily life as she works so hard keeping it all together during a 7 hour school day.
She cannot wait to come home change into her soft pajamas,
lounge in her favorite comfy recliner and consume her treasured toddler shows.
This is her "drug" of choice.
Is that too harsh to say?
Naw, because it makes sense to me.
My daughter in her favorite part of the library checking out cartoon books.
She chooses to watch educational programs, I am really okay with that. We have come along way from when I grew up watching the Tom & Jerry Cartoon, where Tom the mean cat is trying to hurt a little gray mouse named Jerry.
I am happy to report because of my research about this topic, I have new found peace with that sweet, whiny Caillou character!
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Joni Brown writes about her life raising her daughter that lives with PCDH-19 epilepsy, autism, anxiety and OCD.