Children with autism are welcome on Sesame Street
Sesame Street has been working with Autism Speaks and Autism Self Advocacy to build awareness of autism with the introduction of a new character called Julia. Julia is the first Sesame Street character with autism.
For 45 years, Sesame Street has been teaching kids about the people and places around them. Autism affects 1 out of every 68 children born in the US, so autism is part of the fabric of the community that surrounds every child. Although autism is quite prevalent, it’s not broadly understood. To further complicate the issue, autism is not easy for children to understand. Fortunately, Sesame Street is pretty good at teaching kids to understand all kinds of concepts and issues.
With simple language and positive actions, Julia will show children to concentrate on what they all share in common with each other, not their differences. Julia will inspire kids to be more accepting of children with autism and to include them. Julia will also show how simple accommodations can help children with autism.
Julia has an important role because 1 in 5 children with autism get bullied. If Julia is successful at building understanding and acceptance, Sesame Street hopes to reduce bullying.
Julia has been launched in a digital story book called We’re Amazing, 1,2,3. The producers of the show are waiting on some feedback from the autism community before they introduce Julia to the TV show.
Julia is also part of a broader online effort recently launched by Sesame Street called the Sesame Street Workshop Autism Project – See Amazing in all Children.
The site includes the following:
- Videos of children with autism living at home with their parents and siblings. The videos emphasize what they have in common with others and what makes them “amazing”.
- Daily routine cards to help families map out the day.
- Benny’s Story – an animated video created by young adults on the autism spectrum.
- The Julia digital story book
- Tips for parents.
Julia is not the first character to build awareness of a societal issue. In 2002, Sesame Street introduced a character called Kami in South Africa and Nigeria. Kami was a HIV positive character developed to build awareness of HIV and to reduce the stigma of AIDS.
The Kidmunication Point
The producers of Sesame Street are telling the world that Julia is welcomed on Sesame Street. Hopefully one day all children on the autism spectrum will be welcome on Main Street. Keep amazing going. Go the the Sesame Street Workshop site and share the videos.