Sesame Street Debuts Character With Autism
“Sesame Street” has always been the most inclusive place in town.
On Wednesday, the company launched “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children,” an online initiative that will provide resources for viewers on the spectrum, as well as educate the general public about autism. A big part of this is the introduction of Julia, an autistic character who Elmo meets in an online storybook, “We’re Amazing, 1,2,3.”
In the last year, Sesame has held focus groups with special needs educators, parents of children with autism and parents of “typical” kids,” according to “Autism Daddy,” a popular parenting blogger who’s worked at Sesame since 1994 (and recently went public with his real identity.) From these sessions came the three goals of Sesame’s autism initiative.
The first is offering daily routine cards featuring Sesame characters performing everyday tasks like brushing their teeth, going to a restaurant, crossing the street and trying new foods.
Step two is where we meet Julia, who goes on a playdate with Elmo and Abby and teaches them about autism. The storybook will hopefully act as a tool for children unfamiliar with autism but who may have a neighbor, classmate or friend on the spectrum. In one scene, Abby assumes Julia doesn’t like her because she doesn’t answer her right away.
“Elmo’s daddy told Elmo that Julia has autism,” Elmo explains. “So she does things a little differently.”
Other resources include an animated story from Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit school and working studio for young adults on the autism spectrum; and more videos for kids on the spectrum, their siblings and parents.
The third part of Sesame’s initiative focuses on parents — of kids on the spectrum and of neurotypical kids. Five videos featuring autism parents are now available, and all aimed at adults.