“Sesame Street” Extends Its Autism Awareness Projects
Sesame Street is taking its autism awareness initiative to a new level. In October 2015, the children’s show introduced Julia, its first Muppet with autism. Phase two of the project focuses on children ages 2 to 5 as they meet children on the autism spectrum.
Sesame Workshop says its programming includes 12 videos that feature children with autism as they interact with Abby Cadabby, a small Muppet who is a fairy in training. The fun content also comes with resources for parents on the company’s website and in an app available for iOS and Android devices.
The overall goal of the program is to create an understanding about autism and how every child, with or without autism, is unique.
Expanding on Julia
The first part of “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” included an online book with Abby Cadabby, Elmo and Julia. The second phase of the project kicked off with a two-minute animation of that picture book filled with voiceovers from the original characters.
The short starts with Julia and Elmo swinging on a playground swing, during which Abby Cadabby comes up to the pair and says hello to Julia. Abby Cadabby is a bit confused at first because Julia doesn’t acknowledge her and simply keeps humming to herself. Elmo saves the day by explaining Julia simply does things differently, and by the end of the book the trio learns to have fun by playing “I Spy” with Julia.
Knowledge Is Power
One important aspect of the program involves a video montage of real-life kids who talk about what it’s like to live with the condition. This video shows kids’ submissions about what they want other people to know about autism spectrum disorder. One boy uses an app as a means to communicate verbally with the help of a computer program’s voice. Other children say that they are just being kids like everyone else.
The idea behind the initiative is that when people learn and talk about what autism really is, the condition carries less stigma and causes fewer misunderstandings. Meet Sesame Street’s first character with autism by reading about Julia’s story.