"Something really good happened...They started to read," says 6-year-old Angelina to the beloved, blue Muppet Grover. Angelina is telling Grover about how her brothers with autism learned to read through the use of an iPad.
This friendly and informative interaction between the young girl and the classic, lovable Muppet is just the beginning of what some are calling an important move in educating children about autism. Sesame Street is tackling the sensitive and common health matter in a way that could improve the future for kids with autism, their family and friends through an initiative called Sesame Street and Autism: See the Amazing in All Children.
Sesame Street recently released several online videos that present the issue of autism to viewers in a casual but still educational way. The conversations are child-friendly and present a topic that kids might not otherwise care about or understand in an accessible way.
And beyond the videos, Sesame Street has added a new character to its lineup. The Muppet Julia is another friendly presentation to kids of what autism can look like and how to successfully interact with someone who is different in that way.
Members of organizations involved with raising autism awareness praise Sesame Street's move and method to raising awareness about autism on the classic, popular show. Other awareness attempts tend to present the disorder in a fearful, grave way. Through the fun and educational methods that Sesame Street employs, kids can start to understand why someone in their class might be different but also why that is okay, and how they can learn to better interact with the student who has special needs.
And let's be honest, parents have a lot to learn about autism and talking to their kids about the subject, too. A move toward a more informed, sensitive community will hopefully make it easier for all students with autism to comfortably thrive within a diverse classroom.