Searching through the news for ideas, I could only find things that would curse my readers with crippling depression and possibly force them not to read any more of my work.
But then something tapped me on the shoulder of my childhood with the fingers of awareness and of a beautifully progressive era. Oh, and for once, I won’t be decking this thing out with too many of my own views. I am, as of right now, a simple reporter of something spectacular.
SESAME STREET INTRODUCES FIRST AUTISTIC CHARACTER
I remember the greatness of Sesame Street as it was when I was a small child.
I remember Bert and Ernie, two totally inseparable #bros.
I remember The Count, who kickstarted my mathematical development. Unfortunately my skills in that area didn’t make it all the way to college.
I remember Oscar, the “Grouch” who lived in a trash can. Honestly, I’d be grouchy also.
I remember Elmo, my adorable high-pitched best friend who talked in the third person and taught me how to love my neighbor on a regular basis.
Now, meet Julia.
People magazine says that this new girl on the block joined the cast as a part of Sesame Street Workshop’s new initiative. That initiative is referred to as Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. With the introduction of Julia, the goal is to reduce “the stigma of autism.”
Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of U.S. social impact, says:
“Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied. And with 1 in 68 children having autism, that’s a lot of bullying. 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.”
Sesame Street’s “See Amazing in All Children” initiative is giving rise to itself through an app and website, which incorporate videos and digital story cards designed to make daily life tasks easier for families of children with autism and storybook materials for providers, organizations and caregivers.
Check out one of the videos from the site highlighting what life is like from an autistic child’s perspective:
Julia has not yet debuted on television, but as part of the initiative, she is the star of her own ‘digital storybook.’ The stories include Julia explaining to her Sesame Street friends how she likes to play a little differently from them.
Adorable muppet Abby Cadabby says:
“Lots of kids have autism, and that just means their brains work a little differently.”
Sesame Street has been working with Autism Speaks and Autism Self Advocacy on the initiative. Researchers worked on its development for three years and they hope it will ultimately bring people together.
Sherrie Westin, executive VP of global impacts and philanthropy:
“Some people don’t even know whether they’re even supposed to say the word ‘austistic.’ By opening up a dialogue we are trying to get rid of any discomfort or awkwardness; it’s time to increase understanding.“
Growing up, I didn’t have any autistic friends. At least, I don’t think I did. But IF I did, I would not have been certain how I would have gone about making sure he or she felt accepted. Or how I would know to maybe repeat myself a few times, or understand that some of the noises of everyday life bother him/her a lot more than they bother me. I wouldn’t know that the fact that he/she is not making eye contact with me doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t want to play with me.
That is why the initiative was launched. Children should definitely be taught to focus more on the commonalities between them more than the differences. And the “stigma” must be reduced.
Dr. Betancourt says:
“We are trying to spread the story about the theory behind this whole thing–love and acceptance. Everyone is touched by autism, and by creating Julia, Sesame is bringing children together.”
With two more minutes of your time, please check out “The Amazing Song”:
And please remember,