“Sesame Street”, a long-running American television series that teach preschool subjects with comedy, cartoons, games and songs, has introduced a new character with autism, Julia, as part of an effort to reduce stigma and help those on the spectrum learn life skills.
Julia is part of the initiative titled “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children”, a collection of digital content created to provide resources to families, teachers and caregivers around the country to educate them about autism, and tools to help families touched by autism with everyday activities.
Leveraging the expertise of the Sesame Street Workshop, this initiative could amount to a novel and game-changing educational tool aimed at demystifying autism for preschool children. Over the course of three years, the Sesame Street Workshop—the nonprofit behind the TV series—developed this initiative with input from multiple universities, professional organisations, and advocacy groups, including the Yale Child Study Team, Autism Self Advocacy Network, Council for Exceptional Children, and Autism Speaks. Sesame Street worked closely with these groups to make sure that the viewpoints of people with autism are represented and that their work is based on solid academic research. The final product represents a major shift in autism education.