Sesame Workshop is expanding its initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, with new online resources to help children with autism spectrum disorder and/or other special needs and their families. All of the new resources feature the adorable Muppet, Julia, who is on the spectrum, and her equally adorable friends from Sesame Street.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the TV show, designed the resources to help families create new routines, build flexibility, and cope with the challenges of change during turbulent times. Julia is the star of the digital resources, which include an animated video, coloring activity sheets, and more. All of the resources are designed to be fun and engaging as they uplift and support children with special needs and their families.
“Autistic children and their families are facing unprecedented challenges this year, and Sesame Workshop is here to help kids create healthy routines, develop self-regulation and calming strategies, and build resilience,” says Jeanette Betancourt, Ed.D., senior vice president of U.S social impact at Sesame Workshop.
What are Sesame Workshop's new resources to help children with special needs?
The resources are not only educational and supportive, but fun, interactive, and engaging for both kids and the adults in their families. Here's what's available:
A new animated video. We all have fears, but don't let them stand in your way of success! This new video features Julia as she learns to tackle her fear of the dark by drawing what she's afraid of during a backyard camping adventure–and helping her brother along the way. The digital short was created by Exceptional Minds, a school and studio for young adults on the autism spectrum who are pursuing careers in animation and similar fields.
Good-night routine cards. It can be hard getting enough Zzzz's–especially during challenging times–but it is possible! Kids who have trouble falling asleep will enjoy making a healthy and customized bedtime routine with the help of these crafty cards. Scissors, paste, and crayons required.
Multilingual digital story book. Muppet friends Elmo and Abby Cadabby learn different ways to play with Julia and help her feel safe and comfortable in We're Amazing 1, 2, 3. Sesame Workshop partnered with Friends of Children with Special Needs to make the stories available in Mandarin and Cantonese to address the unique challenges Chinese-American children with autism face, including the cultural stigma sometimes associated with autistic children in the Chinese community.
The Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children program was created in 2015. Sesame Workshop designed it in collaboration with organizations and experts within the autism community. Exceptional Minds, which created the new animated video, has been one of those collaborators since the program’s start.
“The Exceptional Minds team of artists on the spectrum continue to showcase their writing, producing, and animation talents on our latest Sesame Workshop short, Backyard Camping,” says David Siegel, executive director of Exceptional Minds. “This project amplifies the workplace skills of our amazing artists while shining a light on autism inclusion. Eighty percent of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed, but with Sesame Workshop’s continued partnership, we are changing that.”
These new resources are just one more way Sesame Workshop has been helping families over the last few years, including its meditation and mindfulness shorts for kids and its racial literacy resources for families.
Main image: Screenshot from Backyard Camping by Sesame Workshop and Exceptional Minds