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First Character with Autism


by Reem Ibrahim

PERSPECTIVE EDITOR

 

The Muppet pals everyone are used to will be joined by a new character named Julia. She has orange hair, green eyes and autism. Julia is a bright character with a wonderful personality, she creates friends with the other Muppets and the relationship between her and the rest of the characters are amazing. Elmo converses with her slightly differently than he does with the other Muppets. For example, he would use fewer words when speaking to her and never hesitates to repeat his words a few times for her to understand him better.

On Wednesday morning, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children is a digital storybook that hopes to raise awareness in autism. The digital storybook is made to explain what it’s like to have autism from the point of view of a child with autism.

Sesame Street and Autism is directed at families who have children with autism. It hopes to educate parents on how to handle stressful situations that may arise. The senior vice president of U.S. social impact, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt told People Magazine, “children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied and with one in 68 children having autism, that’s a lot of bullying. Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences. Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group.”

When children do certain behaviors, like slapping their hands or making sounds, they do these sorts of things to express their unhappiness or excitement. With Sesame Street and Autism, by demonstrating these exact same actions through a character, it’s easy to allow younger children to understand how to interact with an autistic child. It brings the children closer and allows them to be comfortable with one another.

According to US Magazine, “Sesame Street partnered with organizations like Autism Speaks and the Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) to make sure that the materials presented by the brand were educational, respectful, and positive about autism.” By creating these partnerships, it really allows the content shown in the digital storybook to be completely positive and reassure the viewers.