Introducing Sesame Street's super-cute new character, Julia!
Julia is also Sesame Street's very first character with autism - and for several really important reasons which you can read about in this article...
Joining the fuzzy and totally adorable likes of Grover, Elmo and Abby is Sesame Street’s latest cutie Julia, the very first muppet who has autism — and for a very important purpose.
Julia is part of Sesame Street Workshop’s new initiative to “reduce the stigma of of autism” — Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children.
Especially for families with kids aged two to five, this very special initiative, according to PEOPLE Magazine, also includes a free downloadable app that “that incorporates video, digital story cards designed to make daily life tasks easier for families of children with autism and storybook materials for providers, organizations and caregivers.”
Speaking to PEOPLE, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt who is Senior Vice President, Community and Family Engagement at Sesame Workshop, says,
“Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied. 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.”
Both the app and online videos explain what it’s like to have autism from the perspective of a child with autism.
Explaining this educational stance of the initiative that took researchers three years to develop, Dr. Betancourt says that this is what makes their project so unique.
“When we explain from a child’s point of view that there are certain behaviors, such as slapping their hands or making noises, to express excitement or unhappiness, it helps younger children to understand how to interact with their autistic peers. It makes children more comfortable and therefore more inclusive.”
The initiative is not just for the autism community though.
Find out on the next page how all parents can benefit from the information contained in this initiative, and watch the adorable video of the song Be Amazing.
Information for all parents
Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children also has lots of information for parents on how to deal with everyday stress-inducing situations, for example, brushing teeth, going to bed and crossing the street.
Executive vice president of global impacts and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, Sherrie Westin told PEOPLE, “Families with autistic children tend to gravitate toward digital content, which is why we created Julia digitally.”
In the storybooks, Julia explains to her Sesame Street friends how she likes to play a little differently from them. The aim of Julia’s character and the whole initiative is to create “greater awareness and empathy” with the hope it will ultimately bring both adults and children together.
According to PEOPLE, Sesame Street is expanding the initiative through social media using #SeeAmazing online to promote awareness.
Mums and dads reading this, please show this gorgeous video of Sesame Street’s “Be Amazing” song to your little ones. Let’s all do our part in reducing and ultimately eliminating the stigma that surrounds autism!
Do we need more awareness about autism to be created in Singapore? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.