The Proud Family was a beloved show for kids in the early aughts that did it for the culture, representing colorful Black families on screen. The show was recently reboot into a spinoff called The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder. The series is in its second season, which premiered on Feb 1.
Fans are praising a recent episode, which shows what it’s like to receive an autism diagnosis as a Black parent.
In the episode, child psychologist Dr. Lord (voiced by Holly Robinson Peete) tells character BeBe’s parents Oscar (voiced by Tommy Davidson) and Trudy (voiced by Paula Jai Parker) that he is autistic. Oscar initially reacts to the diagnosis with fear and anger as he thinks Dr. Lord is insinuating that his son is “stupid.” This is a common stereotype people have about autistic individuals. In response to Oscar’s fear, she assures BeBe’s parents that children on the spectrum tend to need extra effort and attention from their caregivers, but it doesn’t indicate a lack of ability or unintelligence.
These are important conversations to have because receiving an autism diagnosis can create feelings of fear, sadness, confusion and overwhelm. But the right education about what autism is and how it can affect a child’s life can make moving forward easier.
Fans also brought to light how befitting it is for Holly Robinson Peete to be the reassuring voice for BeBe. Peete has a son, RJ, on the autism spectrum and has been very open about her experiences over the years.
She said to Essence in 2021, “Navigating all of it was hard. I didn’t wake up with a big smile on my face in the beginning like, ‘Oh, we got this!’ I spent a lot of time feeling very sad and defeated and hopeless for years. I would say other people inspired and encouraged me. But mostly it’s been by example.”
“When we were told all of these things he would never do and then we started seeing them check them off that list, I mean, how can you not be encouraged by that?” she continued. “Every child is different, of course, but just celebrating and being thankful for each milestone and even each small win is so important.”
The Louder and Prouder episode also touches on the fact that autism is a spectrum, meaning each child on it can have different abilities. It’s also possible for an autistic child’s abilities to increase or expand over time. For the most part, people with ASD tend to struggle with social and interaction skills, have repetitive behaviors and interests, and have different ways of learning than neurotypical individuals.
An interesting thing to note, BeBe is voiced by a 7-year-old boy named Aiden Dodson, who has a lot in common with the character. “They wanted an African American boy who was autistic, so Aiden being autistic, on the spectrum was a great fit,” said Dodson’s dad in an interview with an ABC affiliate in Fresno, Calif.
You can watch The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder on Disney Plus or Spectrum TV if you have a Roku device.