Mister Rogers Compilation Helps Autistic Children

The Fred Rogers Company releases a compilation DVD entitled Friends and Feelings to help children with autism build social and emotional skills.

The Fred Rogers Company recently released a DVD geared towards autistic children. Entitled Friends and Feelings, the video compilation features four full-length episodes of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood along with bonus features and extras. The project is the first DVD of its kind from the company, so it’s no surprise that parents and educators are excited about its release.

It’s hard to believe that the popular children’s show Mister Rogers Neighborhood will celebrate its 45th anniversary next year. Unlike many other children’s shows, the world of Mister Rogers has stood the test of time, remaining popular for over two generations of children. That staying power says a lot about the quality of content found in each 30-minute segment and a lot about the man behind the magic. Fred Rogers’ passion for children’s programming was as dependable as his signature cardigan and sneakers, and his personality and entertaining style have always created an engaging and stress-free experience for all children, including children with autism spectrum disorders. The Fred Rogers Company explains:

“The Fred Rogers Company has heard time and again from parents and teachers that children with autism connect in powerful ways with the calming pace, caring tone, and predictability of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.They say that watching and reflecting on the program helps decrease anxiety and excitability, improve listening and speaking skills, and encourage imaginative play. Friends and Feelings, developed with input from numerous autism experts,will deliver Fred’s messages and modeling to a new generation of children, parents, and professionals.”

The episodes featured aren’t specifically about autism. Instead, they focus on skills and lessons that many children with autism struggle with on a daily basis. Episodes cover topics like sharing, self control, friendship, patience and managing emotions. In addition to these episodes, the Friends and Feelings DVD also includes introductions from psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and special education consultants. To create this compilation, the Fred Rogers Company worked closely with 20 organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania that benefit children with autism. Thanks to their support, a grant from the FISA Foundation with added assistance from the Darlington Charitable Trust and the Hafner Charitable Foundation, more than 12,000 copies of the DVD will be distributed the child care centers, therapists, schools and families for free.

Friends with Feelings is also available for purchase at the organization’s website and soon you’ll be able to download it on Amazon.com. In the meantime, you can learn more about the DVD and access additional autism resources at fredrogers.org.

So why are we so excited about this project? If you’re familiar with the Spark network, you know that we have a history of funding endeavors that use technology and media to make the lives of all children better — including children with autism. Take, for example, the Spark-funded project Character Therapy which uses a friendly robot named Popchilla to help children with autism learn to recognize and understand emotions. Popchilla, and the app that accompanies it, can help autistic children communicate better and form deeper connections with their loved ones and the world around them. To learn more about Popchilla, visit our projects page.

Between robotic Popchilla and Friends with Feelings, one things for sure — Pittsburgh is working hard to make the world a better place for autistic children, and we have no doubts that those efforts move far beyond Pittsburgh to make the nation, and maybe even the world a better place for children and parents alike. Are you a parent, teacher or therapist who plans to use the Friends and Feelings DVD to help the autistic children in your life? Tell us about it by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter.


Published May 22, 2012