‘Sesame Street’ Introduces First Character With Autism

Kids with autism play a little differently and are frequently the target of bullying. That’s why Sesame Street Workshop has launched a new nationwide initiative: Sesame Street and Autism/See Amazing in All Children, and is introducing a new friend with special challenges to fuzzy favorites Grover, Elmo, Cookie Monster and the other puppet pals.

'Sesame Street' Introduces First Character With Autism'Sesame Street' Introduces First Character With Autism

Like one in 68 children, Julia has autism. But like every other child she likes to play, have friends and be included as part of the group.

Families of children with autism gravitate toward digital content, so Julia was created digitally. There’s a downloadable app that incorporates video, digital story cards, and storybook materials. It’s a simple way to get the conversation about autism started without discomfort and awkwardness.

'Sesame Street' Introduces First Character With Autism'Sesame Street' Introduces First Character With Autism

Targeted at children ages 2 to 5, the app’s story cards are designed to make everyday tasks easier for the families of children with autism, and the storybook materials offer help to caregivers and organizations who work with these kids.

The goal is to create awareness, understanding, and empathy. To that end, researchers spent three years developing this initiative that is being expanded through social media using #SeeAmazing.

Both the app and the video take Julia’s point of view, explaining what having autism is really like for a child. Highlighting what every child has in common rather than focusing on differences is a big step toward removing the stigma of the disorder and making children feel more comfortable around their special needs peers.

'Sesame Street' Introduces First Character With Autism Julia'Sesame Street' Introduces First Character With Autism Julia

The initiative provides education for adults as well. Parents of children with autism can get supportive tips on managing stressful situations their child faces daily. For everyone else, understanding autism can help make us more compassionate and capable of comfortably answering questions our kids may ask about their special-needs friends like lovable Julia.

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About the author


Vicki Clinebell is a former television advertising executive who spent 25+ years with an ABC television affiliate in sales and marketing. A journalism major in college at the University of Colorado/Boulder, she now writes for a variety of online and print publications and provides blog content for clients including retail businesses and artists. The diversity of subject matter appeals to her, whether she’s reporting on the latest trends in baby gear, highlighting stories about outdoor adventures, or explaining basic pet-care tips. Even better, she says, is the shorter work commute… just down the hall, and a dress code that’s changed from suits and heels to jeans and a sweatshirt.

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