Sesame Street has long been a stalwart of children’s education programming, but with their recent moves to create further awareness of autism, they have taken things to a new level once more.
One of the longest running TV shows in America, Sesame Street was the first children’s programme to embrace the educational curriculum as part of its internal structure, and the first programme from which the educational effects and benefits were studied. Kids and adults alike couldn’t get enough of Jim Henson’s adorable Muppet creations, but the mixture of animation, progressive learning and variety within the show was what secured its longevity.
Over the decades since it began in 1969, Sesame Street has dealt with a range of social issues from race, religion and gender to sexuality and equality. In 2015 it introduced a new character, Julia, as part of their Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children programme. The programme provides a range of resources for parents, teachers and care givers, to assist them in developing the skills of young people with autism. Here are some of the highlights of the segments so far:
According to Autism Speaks:
The goal of the program is to reduce the stigma associated with autism. A 2012 study by the Interactive Autism Network found that a total of 63% of 1,167 children with ASD, ages 6 to 15, had been bullied at some point in their lives. Get our anti-bullying resources here.
The initiative also aims to educate kids as well as their parents on how to have successful interactions with kids on the spectrum. During Autism Awareness Month in April, 2014, Sesame Workshop teamed up with Autism Speaks for a PSA featuring co-Founders Bob and Suzanne Wright and Abby Cadabby – watch it below.
“More than 20 years ago, my beautiful son received the diagnosis of autism, and my world changed instantly and profoundly. I knew nothing about autism, and it seemed that those around me—even the professionals—didn’t know much either. Today, happily, that has changed. There’s greater awareness, and there has been much progress understanding autism. But it’s still a puzzle, and every child is affected differently. You’ve probably heard the saying “if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” So what’s the most important thing for people to know? We’re all different in some way or another—that’s what makes the world an interesting place. And equally, all of us in our own way are amazing!”
With an array of songs, activity cards and ever-developing material on the subject of autism, Sesame Street are using their universal notoriety and highly-respected platform to reduce the stigma and increase understanding of the condition; a marvellous and admirable feat.
For further information on autism, visit Autism Speaks.