There’s a new Muppet on Sesame Street. Her name is Julia, and she has autism. She is part of a new community outreach initiative called See Amazing in All Children, designed to increase understanding of the one in sixty-eight children born in the United States that are being diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The focus of the initiative is not only to show some of the behaviors that may be displayed by young children with autism, but also to show the commonalities these children share with “neuro-typical” children. The idea is to make interactions between all kids easier and more fun. There are videos (both animated and live action), daily routine cards, a terrific “Amazing” song, and much much more, all available for free on the web site: sesamestreet.org/autism. So far Julia lives only in the outreach materials, but it's gratifying to see what a big welcome she has received.
Personally, I am very proud to have been involved in this project, brainstorming, troubleshooting, taping some video bits, and writing the storybook: We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3. It was a labor of love every step of the way, exactly the kind of material I wish had been available back when my son was diagnosed, more than twenty years ago. At the very least, our family wouldn’t have felt so alone. If your life has been touched in any way by autism (and even if it hasn’t yet been), please visit online!