With Muppet On The Spectrum, ‘Sesame Street’ Makes Impact
Nearly four years after “Sesame Street” introduced a muppet with autism, new research suggests that the show’s materials focused on the developmental disorder are making a difference.
A collection of online materials from Sesame Workshop has helped increase knowledge and acceptance of those who are on the spectrum, according to findings published recently in the journal Autism.
In addition to debuting Julia, a muppet with autism, Sesame Workshop unveiled its online autism initiative called “See Amazing in All Children” in 2015. At the time when the study was conducted, the website included information about autism, an electronic storybook featuring Julia, videos and a set of daily routine cards to help kids learn skills like brushing their teeth or crossing the street.
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For the study, researchers surveyed over 1,000 parents of kids ages 6 and younger — some of whom had autism — before and after viewing the “Sesame Street” initiative. Parents were asked about their knowledge of autism, acceptance and inclusion of those with the condition, and about their level of parenting confidence and stress related to their child’s behavior.
After spending time on the “See Amazing in All Children” website, parents of typically-developing children reported more knowledge about autism and greater acceptance of kids diagnosed with it.
Meanwhile, parents of children on the spectrum indicated that they were more optimistic about including their child in the community and reported less strain and greater parenting competence, the study found.
“That the See Amazing materials invoked positive changes in the general parent community and in parents of autistic children suggests that See Amazing materials have the potential to be an effective resource to increase acceptance and community inclusion,” wrote researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Georgetown University and Children’s National Health System in their findings.
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