'Julia' joins the cast of muppets as their first character with autism.
Launched last week, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children aims to reduce "the stigma of autism" with the introduction of the first muppet with autism.
The initiative, created for communities and families with children ages 2 to 5, includes a free downloadable app that incorporates video, digital story cards designed to make daily life tasks easier for families of children with autism and storybook materials for providers, organisations and caregivers.
The app and online videos also explain what it is like to have autism from the perspective of the child. It hopes to educate parents on best practices for everyday stressful situation including brushing teeth, crossing the street and going to bed.
It focuses on highlighting the things kids have in common rather than their differences. Although aimed at people in the US, the resources are also available to audiences in the UK.
There are around 700,000 people in the UK diagnosed with autism, according to The National Autistic Society. Mark Lever, the charity’s Chief Executive, said in a statement to Newsbeat that his organisation hopes it will “inspire” other creators to include characters with autism in their work.
“What we like most about their approach is how it celebrates difference and shows how a little understanding can change everything,” he said. “For instance, one scene in the Sesame Street storybook shows Julia flapping “Rather than giving her an unhelpful and judgmental look – as can often happen in reality – Elmo simply explains that this means that Julia is excited."
Researchers have been working on the initiative for 3 years with the aim of bringing people together. You can get involved by using #SeeAmazing to raise awareness.
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