Autism spectrum disorder is becoming an increasingly worrying problem in Spain. This is confirmed by the Ministry of Health, whose data indicates that 1 in 150 children receives this diagnosis, which adds up to around 50,000 children who suffer from this disorder.

Basically it is an alteration of early onset, in childhood, which is characterized by involvement in the area of ​​communication, social interaction, behavior, activity and sphere of interests. Its prognosis varies depending on the severity of the disorder, although more than 40% of patients who follow individualized therapy achieve a high degree of sociability and manage to develop a certain degree of autonomy.

In fact, the worst thing is that many of them continue to be victims of rejection and social isolation, especially from other children. In this sense, studies have shown that children with autism are five times more likely to be victims of bullying and tend to be more prone to isolation. This problem not only affects their inclusion in society but also limits the development of their social and cognitive skills. For this reason, different awareness campaigns are being launched that seek to eliminate the negative stigma associated with children with autism spectrum disorder and stimulate empathy towards these little ones.

Sesame Street, the famous children’s series, joins this initiative and has included a new character: Julia, a muppet with autism.

Sesame Street opens the doors to autism

Sesame Street has included in its cast of characters, along with Elmo and Abby, Julia, a nice muppet who suffers from autism. This character aims to break the social stigma that has been created around autism by explaining to children why she is different from the rest of her peers and what are the qualities that make her special.

With Julia, Sesame Street intends to debunk many of the myths that still exist about autism. For this reason, he has chosen a girl muppet since although only one in five children diagnosed with autism is female, little girls become double victims of social rejection due to gender discrimination and the stigma that hangs over the disorder.

To stimulate empathy towards these children, Sesame Street has naturally highlighted many of the aspects that characterize these little ones. That is why Julia does not maintain eye contact with her friends, gets very excited when she gets excited, knows some songs by heart, repeatedly plays with the same toy, and takes a long time to answer the questions of others. They are the most characteristic features of children who suffer from this disorder and that will serve to explain to the little ones what autism is and why those who suffer from this disorder behave like this.

However, Julia will not only serve to educate children and families but will also allow children with this disorder to identify with the character. It could even be useful in some cases, as part of the treatment.

Sesame Street  has also prepared a set of educational and digital materials that explain in a very simple way everything that children should know about autism. The initiative includes different children’s games and songs, as well as resources for parents and an iPad app with videos and micro-stories titled “Sesame Street and Autism: Seeing the Wonderful in Every Child.”

To introduce the character they have released this new video for you to meet the loving muppets and how they welcome their new friend, Julia. It is a composition that tries to show a different perspective of children with autism in which their differences are highlighted, but also those qualities that make them such special little ones.