"Seeing Wondrous Abilities Within Disability"




In June of 2010, Realabilties came into being! Prof. Nava Silton assigned her Graduate Child Development students at Fordham University a creative final assignment and decided to complete the assignment herself, as well. The result was the blueprint for: Realabilites! With the wisdom, creativity, insight and support from her graduate students at Fordham University, her talented undergraduate Research Assistants at Marymount Manhattan College and the skills of comic book artists, graphic designers, animators, composers, editors and producers, Realabilities was born!


Based on Rosenthal’s Affect/Effort Theory (1963), individuals will place more effort in their social interactions, if they have high expectancies of their peers. Therefore, it is hypothesized that if typical children possess more positive expectancies of their peers with disabilities (by learning about their special abilities rather than focusing solely on their impairments), they may make more of an effort to interact and take interest in their peers with disabilities. Additionally, children with disabilities may experience more confidence if on-screen they observe protagonists with disabilities viewed in a positive light.

Realabilities is intended to enhance the behavioral intentions, cognitive attitudes and social interest of typical child viewers towards their peers with disabilities. Overall, it will hopefully allow children with varying disabilities to see themselves in a positive and strong light on the television screen, iPad, computer monitor, or wherever their adventures may take them.



Nava R. Silton, Ph.D.



Nava R. Silton, Ph.D., a Developmental Psychologist, received her B.S. from Cornell University in 2002 and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Fordham University in 2009. Silton has worked at Nickelodeon, Sesame Street Workshop, Mediakidz and has consulted for Netflix and The Autism Seaver Center. She appears regularly on Fox 5 News as a Psychological Correspondent, as well as on Good Day New York and NBC. Nava is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at Marymount Manhattan College. She has written over three dozen peer-reviewed journal articles, over twenty chapters, book reviews and encyclopedia entries and has edited five full textbooks. Her first two books discuss innovative technologies for individuals with autism and other disabilities, her third delves into creativity, her fourth into family dynamics and romantic relationships and her most recent text explores the constructs of happiness, gratitude, kindness, empathy and well-being. 

Silton created the The Realabilities Educational Comic Book Series (www.realabilities.com), which offers 11 comics and two instructional manuals to teachers world-wide. It has now been translated into Hebrew and Spanish and is currently being translated into Chinese, as well. Due to the popularity of the Realabilities Series in the schools, Silton created Addy & Uno, The First Family Musical about Disabilities, Bullying and Kindness. Most recently, Addy & Uno was optioned for an Off-Broadway run on Theatre Row and is currently on an open-ended run throughout the year (www.addyanduno.com). Realabilities and Addy & Uno intend to fill a significant void in children's media and literature so that individuals with disabilities can see themselves represented positively on-screen, and typical children and adults can become increasingly knowledgeable, sensitive and interested in their peers with disabilities. Moreover, the comic series and show seek to promote the important values of kindness, friendship, empathy and gratitude.

For more about Nava Silton and here work, Click Here


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Christopher Gomez is a cartoonist/Illustrator who specializes in mainstream comics geared towards youth and young adults. With training in both computer technology and fine arts, he possesses ability in both traditional and digital mediums. He graduated with a degree in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts and is our primary Comic Book Illustrator. His personal website  is chrisgomezart.com and his webcomic: cambioncomic.tumblr.com.

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Michael Scanlon began his career in children’s media in 2005. Over the last decade, he’s worked as a designer on a number of film, television, app, and publishing projects for clients such as Disney, Nickelodeon, FOX and CBeebies. He loves nothing more than to create fantastical worlds and the whimsical characters that inhabit them.

Research Team

Through the years, the following students have contributed and continue to contribute invaluably to the research success of Realabilities: 

Jessica Altchiler, Senada Arucevic, Lauren Ashbrook, Michael Corning, Alicia Ferris, Roberta Frossard, Rachel Hout, Emily Hotez, Vanessa Norkus, A. Kristina Keyser, Patrick Riley, Michael Rojas, Rebecca Ruchlin, Jennifer Santamaria, Danielle Schlough, Kelly Tarbell, Avery Toland, and Carol Wagner.

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