This article was published on Disability Scoop by Shaun Heasley on September 23, 2020.
With a collection of new materials, “Sesame Street” is working to help kids with autism adapt to wearing face masks and other realities of living through a pandemic.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind “Sesame Street,” unveiled a series of videos this week featuring Julia, a 4-year-old muppet with autism, as she encounters the various ways that the world has changed as a result of COVID-19.
The videos show Julia going on a virtual playdate with Elmo, practicing wearing a face mask during a video call with her dad and learning to deal with changes as she visits the park for the first time in a long time.
In addition to the videos, Sesame Workshop is also offering articles and stories to help parents and caregivers support their kids on the spectrum as they deal with changes in routine.
“We know that children with autism and their families are experiencing unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that schedules, routines and guidelines can change with little warning,” said Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of U.S. social impact at Sesame Workshop. “The new resources are designed to help families manage unexpected circumstances, familiarize children with important new behaviors like wearing masks and incorporate practical strategies into their day-to-day lives — all with a little help from Julia.”
The content released this week is just the latest from Sesame Workshop designed to help children cope with the pandemic. This spring, the organization rolled out its “Caring for Each Other” initiative with resources to help families manage anxiety and establish new routines. At that time, they also offered coronavirus-related tips specifically for families of those with autism.
The autism materials are part of the broader “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” initiative, which launched in 2015 and includes a range of online videos and resources and a handful of “Sesame Street” episodes focused on Julia.