Sesame Workshop’s (also involved in helping military kids) new initiative involves increasing understanding of autism and working to reduce bullying. Between six and seven of every ten autistic children are bullied. My own son was one of these children and it was agonizing to see him go through it.
Sesame Workshop seeks to increase young children’s awareness of autism in their peers, with the idea that awareness brings understanding, reduces the stigma, and can therefore abate bullying.
Julia’s presence on Sesame Street will help to introduce children to the idea that while children with autism can act differently, they are also the same as other kids. They just want to be accepted for who they are. The stories will help kids learn to celebrate their commonalities and show that together, they can learn, play and have fun.
There are online videos and an app to help families understand what it is like to have autism, from the perspective of a child with autism. The videos, app and online story cards go a long way to further understanding. These will all help young children learn to be friends with kids who may act in a peculiar manner or express themselves in unfamiliar ways. With a seemingly ever increasing rate of autism, this initiative is a good step. We don’t know what causes autism, so at this point, we can only help kids affected with it with early diagnosis and therapies and increase understanding in the world around them.
I wish Julia had lived on Sesame Street when my kids were younger. I’m glad she’s there now.
For better understanding of what it’s like to live with autism, read The Reason I Jump, a book written by a young teen, and Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome? A Guide For Friends and Family.