April is Autism Awareness Month, but for many families every month is Autism month, so Sesame Street is recognizing that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) isn't just something that individual children are dealing with, but something that families are dealing with together.
That's why the children's show has just introduced a cast of characters to support Julia, the first muppet with ASD, who was introduced to Sesame Street viewers in 2017.
"We're thrilled to expand Julia's world with her parents, big brother, and her adorable dog, Rose, in our new resources," Sherrie Westin, president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, said in a statement.
"Children with autism often face unique challenges, as do their parents and siblings. But every family faces challenges of some sort, which is why we are focusing on what all families have in common. In a family, everyone has different roles, challenges, and strengths, and everyone can learn from one another," Westin explains.
For families impacted by ASD, seeing their reality reflected in on Sesame Street is a big deal.
One Instagram user commented on the announcement to explain why it means so much: "As someone on the spectrum, thank you so much Sesame Street for teaching kids about this."
Not only is Julia's family a reflection of many families in America (and making those families feel seen and understood) but they are also a valuable teaching tool that will help neurotypical children better understand their classmates with ASD.
The development of Julia's family shows just how far the Sesame Workshop's autism initiative has come since it was started back in 2015. The workshop that has such an influence on American kids has pumped out a ton of materials (most notably Julia herself) to increase awareness of and empathy for kids with ASD.
With the addition of Julia's mom, dad, brother, and dog come a new wealth of resources, including this new video:
As Elmo told Good Morning America, "Julia has autism...And that makes Julia different … But it's really cool that everybody's a little bit different but the same, too. And Elmo and Julia have a lot in common, and we have a lot of fun together."
Julia has Autism, but in a lot of ways, Julia's family is just like yours.
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