S4C have announced the first Welsh language TV series to consider the needs of autistic children. The new series, Oli Wyn, starts on S4C during World Autism Awareness Week, between 26 March and 2 April.
Oli Wyn is a series about vehicles, cars and machinery of all shapes and sizes, for children who enjoy things that move; and is the latest edition to S4C's Cyw service for children between 3 and 6 years old.
Children of all abilities will enjoy learning how machines work in the company of a cat puppet called Oli Wyn. The series starts on Friday morning 30 March and in each episode, Oli Wyn will introduce us to a friend who works with machines, including a bin lorry, fire engine, and a machine used to clean trains.
While many children enjoy watching machines, it’s an interest which appeals to many children living with autism, because of their inclination to have special interests, and their fondness of order, mechanics and the way things work.
By working with National Autistic Society Wales (NAS), the series' producers, Cynyrchiadau Twt Productions, have considered the needs of autistic children.
Siwan Jobbins, from Cynyrchiadau Twt Productions, says; "Machines of all shapes, sizes and sounds are the attraction in Oli Wyn, and I hope that children will enjoy the movements and sounds of the machines as they learn about the tasks that they do. I was inspired to create the series after spending some time with my nephew who enjoys machines. It’s a wonder how much children understand about them.”
The NAS assisted in creating the series by explaining that autism is a condition that affects each individual differently, but there are some characteristics that are common to all with the condition.
Among the advice was the effect that autism has on the senses. This includes background noise that may be unbearably loud and can disrupt the enjoyment of the programme, and to ensure that there was plenty of warning before any unexpected sounds, such as a train blowing its horn.
Meleri Thomas from National Autistic Society Wales says; “It was excellent to have the opportunity to work together on this project. I’d like to thank Cynyrchiadau Twt Productions for being so ready to listen to our advice and for creating a television series in Welsh that puts the needs of autistic children at the heart of the creative process. I really hope that autistic children and their families enjoy following Oli Wyn’s journeys and seeing how the different machines work.”
Oli Wyn is the first series on S4C that has considered the needs of those living with autism. In 2012, the series Dwylo'r Enfys on S4C was the first programme in Welsh to introduce the Makaton sign language to children, to help their communication skills. Both series are valuable as part of a wide range of colourful and educational programmes and digital content that introduces literacy, numeracy and life skills to all children through the medium of Welsh.
Sioned Wyn Roberts, Children’s Content Commissioner at S4C, says; “Our aim is to create programmes that are fun, fresh and that help children and their families. We hope Oli Wyn will appeal to all children who enjoy mechanics and order and we’re extremely grateful to National Autistic Society Wales for their advice as we consider those with additional needs in a way that is inclusive. This year we celebrate Cyw’s 10th birthday and the service continues to break new ground and invites all children to play, laugh and learn in Welsh.”
In the first episode, on Friday morning 30 March, Oli Wyn takes us to Swansea to see how Nathan prepares his lorry to transport cars on a long journey. The first episode coincides with International National Autism Awareness Week, and there are ten episodes – and ten different vehicles – in the series.