‘Sesame Street’ Helps Children With Autism Learn To Wear Face Masks
Classic children’s show “Sesame Street” is working to help children with autism adapt to wearing face masks and other real-life situations involved in a pandemic.
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit behind the show. They create supplemental pieces to go along with the show, including a new series of videos released on September 21 that feature the character of Julia, a 4-year-old muppet with autism. In the videos, Julia encounters the various ways the world has had to change because 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.
To help parents support their children on the spectrum, Sesame Workshop is also releasing articles and stories that give advice to families as they deal with changes in their child’s 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,” Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of U.S. social impact at Sesame Workshop, told Disability Scoop. “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.”
This isn’t the first time Sesame Workshop has contributed educational content to help children cope with the pandemic. In the spring of 2020, the nonprofit released its “Caring for Each Other” initiative that features resources to help families manage anxiety and establish new routines. They also offered COVID-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.