Julia is the newest character who was introduced on Sesame Street this past October 2015. What makes her more relatable to a wider audience of children and families is the fact that Julia has autism. She has orange hair, friendly eyes, and a big smile.
In an online storybook book called “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3“, Elmo, one of Sesame Street’s most popular characters, takes the lead and shows how to make friends with Julia. In an explanation given by Elmo to another pal, he describes Julia’s autistic behavior. Elmo says he sometimes repeats what he is telling her, and sometimes she does not answer right away. Often, using shorter sentences helps Julie understand better. With Elmo explaining how to communicate with patience, he demonstrates the ease of becoming friends with Julia.
With autism being so common (one in every 68 children in the United States), children should learn about social challenges they may face. Autism may induce awkward social interactions that might entice a bully who could act out with aggression or dominant behavior. It is important to teach that all children are more similar than different; especially when it comes to having classmates, friends, or siblings with autism.
Autism covers a wide range of complex disorders pertaining to brain development. There are various levels of autistic challenges that those with autism face including difficulties with repetitive behavior and also with communication; both verbal and nonverbal. Autism can also involve sensory challenges and awareness issues. Autism seems to be more common now than in years past, and as the medical field seems to continuously learn more, they are able to provide greater understanding of the condition and its various degrees of difficulties.
Sesame Street has been recognized with many awards, providing them with the credentials to offer information to families. Parents and children can trust the messages that are delivered by Sesame Street characters and is therefore the ideal source to teach about autism. Aside from television, computer, and books, the social arena of school is a prime place to learn about autism. As autism becomes more prevalent in the school system, it is imperative to educate children and families about the similarities of children as well as their differences. Acceptance is the opposite of bullying and should be taught through the examples of both parents and teachers.
Sesame Street has set a wonderful stage to learn about autism by introducing their new character, Julia. The example set is ideal for educating the public including both parents and children.