What Sesame Street is Doing to Reduce Stigma and Change Perceptions Around Autism
By Sesame Street Yellow Feather Fund on April 15, 2019
In the U.S., 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism. Nearly every family and community is touched in some way.
While the diagnosis is common, public understanding of autism is not. This lack of understanding can make life even more difficult for children with autism.
That’s why we created our Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative, with the hope of destigmatizing autism and supporting families with free resources to help them navigate everyday moments and challenges. And in 2017, we welcomed a new friend to Sesame Street—a 4-year-old Muppet with autism named Julia. Seeing the difference that Julia has made has been nothing short of amazing—changing perceptions, fostering greater empathy and understanding, and perhaps most importantly, helping children with autism and their families feel that they are not alone.
Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children
While the differences between children with autism and their peers may seem significant, all children have something far more important in common: unique qualities and talents that make the world an interesting place.
Developed with input from parents, autism community organizations, and people with autism, See Amazing in All Children offers families step-by-step ways to simplify everyday activities and overcome common challenges.
The initiative’s interactive tools bring together many voices—individuals with autism, siblings, parents, professionals—and those learning about autism for the first time. Julia and Sesame Street’s beloved Muppets are there to celebrate the greatness of all children, with or without autism.
Our resources are already having a big impact. Research by Georgetown University Medical Center and Children’s National Health System shows that after using our materials, parents without an autistic child experienced a significant increase in knowledge and acceptance of autism. And for parents who do have an autistic child, there was a significant increase in comfort level in involving their child in the community.³
The initiative has grown since its inception, reaching children and families across the country in both English and Spanish. Just this month, we introduced Julia’s parents, big brother, and adorable companion dog—focusing on what all families share in common while providing tools to overcome everyday challenges.
What Can You Do to Support Initiatives Like This?
Through engaging (and free!) videos, storybooks, and digital activities in both English and Spanish, we help children and families with everyday challenges and joys. And we reach out to the public at large, promoting acceptance and understanding around autism.
As a donor, you can support Sesame Workshop’s programs and initiatives by donating to the Yellow Feather Fund through your employer’s workplace giving program (CFC# 58827 if you’re a military or federal employee participating in the Combined Federal Campaign). Your gift enables Sesame Street to research, create, and distribute materials used by educators, families, and service providers nationwide—and helps us spread the message that every child is unique, and every child is amazing.
As the Yellow Feather Fund’s workplace giving partner, America’s Charities can help your company implement a program centered on supporting their work - through workplace giving campaigns, employee fundraising, matching gifts, and other employee engagement and philanthropic initiatives. Click here to request more information about how we can help you do this.
(3) Evaluation of the Sesame Street: See Amazing in All Children Initiative.