‘Sesame Street’, the American TV show for kids, has expanded its offering by adding new multilingual autism resources on its website. The new rollout features Julia, the first autistic character on Sesame Street and it is aimed at helping children with autism and their families to cope with the challenges of change during turbulent times.
The resources include an animated video, and a set of new printable activity sheets. While the video shows how Julia learns to handle her fear of the dark by drawing what frightens her, the activity sheets contain pictures that can be coloured and a set of ‘Good Night Routine Cards’ among others. Julia, who was first introduced in 2017, has featured in several such videos and resources that are specifically aimed at educating and sensitising children about autism.
Sesame Workshop, the producer of Sesame Street has launched the new autism resources in collaboration with Exceptional Minds, an academy training autistic youth for a successful career in graphics and animation.
Dr Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of US Social Impact at Sesame Workshop said, “Autistic children and their families are facing unprecedented challenges this year, and Sesame Workshop is here to help kids create healthy routines, develop calming strategies, and build resilience.”
“Our team of artists on the spectrum continue to showcase their writing, producing, and animation talents on our latest Sesame Workshop short, Backyard Camping. Eighty percent of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed, but with Sesame Workshop’s continued partnership, we are changing that,” said David Siegel, executive director of Exceptional Minds.
To help the Chinese American autism community, Sesame Workshop is also launching Mandarin and Cantonese adaptations of ‘We’re Amazing’ digital storybooks with Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN). In these books, Elmo and Abby Cadabby learn about the different ways in which they can play and interact with Julia so as to make her feel comfortable and safe.
“Children with autism need to be understood and embraced by communities around the world. FCSN is honored to partner with Sesame to translate this important book about Julia, a child with autism, into Chinese languages,” said Anna Wang, co-founder and vice president, FCSN.