In first grade, George started talking about feeling "different" from other kids. When he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, his mom went searching for resources to help their family meet the challenge—and help others understand.
Watch a live-action segment seen on Arthur as part of When Carl Met George, featuring real kids with Asperger's. Learn about Love Lane in Lincoln, MA, providing therapeutic horseback riding for children with special needs.
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[01:00:01:01] I am Elisa Leavit. I have 3 boys. I have George, who is 8, William who is 7, and Aidan who is 5. George came into the world like every other baby. He was perfectly healthy. Around his first birthday, I started noticing little things developmentally; his motor skills were off. Into turning 2, we started seeing obsessive behaviors. You couldn't ignore it. I started noticing a lot of sensory issues.
Textures in general could be very offensive, or more pleasurable than they need to be. In Kindergarten, there was a lot of anxiety sending him off everyday knowing that he is going to be rubbing his mouth on the back of some little girl's hair because he thinks it's really soft. At the beginning of first grade, George started talking about feeling different from other kids. He was saying, you know, so-and-so doesn't wanna play with me. As a mom, you know, sending your son to school, knowing that there are kids that are gonna say you're weird and you're different, that's painful. This is a kid that I love with my whole heart. That was a challenge for both my husband and I, I think.
[01:01:24:21] I remember the day that we had George's diagnosis: my husband said, "We love him. Now we get to love him better." I said; "That's it. That's the bigger picture. Now we can know how to love him better."
I had gone online and searching and searching for some sort of video for him to watch, and when I stumbled upon a phrase that said: "Arthur introduces a new character with Asperger's Syndrome," my jaw just dropped, like, "wow, wow!" The story tells about a regular kid who interacts for the first time with a kid with Asperger's Syndrome. It was written as if it was exactly for my family and for my son, even down to the fact that my son looks like the little boy on "Arthur."
[01:02:19:11] I saw it while my son was still at school. So when he came home and walked in the door, I said, "Oh, George you are not gonna believe what I found, like, why don't you come and sit on the couch with me?" And as soon as it really started and he got the gist that, "Oh, my goodness, this is a story about me!" He was like, ear to ear beaming: "Wow, this is about Asperger's Syndrome, like this is fantastic!" He wanted to watch it over and over again. He couldn't wait to have his brothers like: "Come sit down to watch this with me."
[01:02:58:03] And then he could not wait for my husband to get home from work, because he was like, 'Dad, the best thing happened today, the best thing ever! Come sit on the couch with me." Really did bring tears to my husband's eyes, like, "This is really great!"
The episode of Arthur really impacted George in a huge way. It impacted him by giving him more self-confidence. George does, on a regular basis, talk to his friends about, you know: "There's an episode of Arthur that you should see," you know, "Have you ever seen that one? Because that's what I have."
For my younger sons, letting them have something to help them understand their big brother and realize that: "that's my big brother and I love him, and he's different and he's quirky, and he's fantastic just the way he is." That's really important to me.
[01:03:47:28] I think WGBH is different than regular programming, because I think that they focus on things that people need to be educated about. People need to be educated about disabilities, about other people, about the world around them. There's always going to be someone who's different. I think that having a TV station that highlights those things and finds the beauty in them and is willing to share and educate everyone else about it is so important. It's so important.