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Sesame Street’s Web-Based Initiative Promotes Next Step in Autism Education

Sesame Street’s Web-Based Initiative Promotes Next Step in Autism Education

After three years in development and partnerships with multiple professional organizations and advocacy groups such as the Yale Child Study Team, Sesame Street has released a web-based initiative that unveiled Julia, the show’s first character with autism.

Numerous studies have proven Sesame Street to be a valuable educational tool, with some experts even referring to the show as the world’s first MOOC (massive online open course; its influence on early education and childhood development makes the show’s commitment to autism education even more impactful.

Indeed, Sesame Street has stood the test of time. "The producers’ belief that learning can be fun and even joyful is one reason why Grover and Elmo and Big Bird are cultural touchstones for so many people, from Baby Boomers to Millennials to today’s toddlers,” said The Atlantic.

The Sesame Street team is useful this influence to raise awareness for something one in 68 U.S. children are diagnosed with- autism.

In its web-based initiative, Sesame Street's Autism: See Amazing in All Children introduces Julia through the digital storybook, We're Amazing, 1, 2, 3! The site also provides a series of videos and digital cue cards to help parents teach autistic children basic skills.

“The videos, books, and other resources present children with the disorder as those who may have challenges but go to school, play, and love their families, just like other kids. The goal is to reduce the stigma associated with this disability by promoting greater understanding and empathy for autistic children and their families,” The Atlantic said.

“While explaining the challenges faced by kids with autism, the videos also show the commonalities of all children. The children are adored by their families. They have to say 'thank you; to their parents, even if they have to do so in sign language. The kids participate in typical childhood activities, including visiting diners and museums, riding tricycles down the block, and playing with train sets.”

By taking this approach, the article says, Sesame Street is normalizing autism as opposed to exaggerating the disability.

As opposed to using a “disease model,” Sesame Street’s initiative to change autism’s rhetoric is described by experts as the next stage in education, the article said.

To start “seeing amazing in all children,” check out Sesame Street’s new initiative at autism.sesamestreet.org.

Read the full story here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

11/06/2015

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