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Sesame Workshop Expands Autism Initiative, Releases ‘Backyard Camping’ Video with Exceptional Minds

‘See Amazing in All Children’ effort helps families build new routines, increase flexibility, and cope with the challenges of change during turbulent times; new animated short features Julia, Sesame Street’s 4-year-old Muppet with autism, written, produced and animated by artists on the spectrum.

Sesame Workshop has announced its expansion of the ‘Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children’ initiative with new resources featuring Julia, a 4-year-old Sesame Street Muppet with autism. The new resources, available here, are designed to help families create new routines, build flexibility, and cope with the challenges of change during turbulent times.

In continued partnership with Exceptional Minds, an academy and studio preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in animation and beyond, Sesame Workshop just launched a new 2D animated video, Backyard Camping, featuring Julia as she learns how to handle her fear of the dark by drawing what she’s afraid of—helping her brother along the way.

The video was written, produced, and animated by Exceptional Minds’ team of artists on the autism spectrum. Accompanying the animation are new printables, and coloring and activity sheets, including Good Night routine cards to help children develop a healthy bedtime routine.

Sesame Workshop continues to expand the breadth of the ‘See Amazing in All Children’ content library based on feedback from advisors and community members. To better serve the Chinese American autism community, Sesame Workshop is partnering with Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN) to launch Mandarin and Cantonese adaptations of the “We’re Amazing 1, 2, 3” digital storybook featuring Elmo and Abby Cadabby learning different ways to play with Julia and help their friend feel safe and comfortable. Two new articles written by FCSN will be available for families and providers on the unique challenges Chinese American children with autism face.

“Autistic children and their families are facing unprecedented challenges this year, and Sesame Workshop is here to help kids create healthy routines, develop self-regulation and calming strategies, and build resilience,” shared Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of US Social Impact at Sesame Workshop. “We know the importance of collaborating with the autistic community as well as their families when creating new materials, which is why we teamed up with Exceptional Minds and Friends of Children with Special Needs to launch these new resources today.”

Created in 2015, the ‘Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children’ initiative aims to increase public awareness of autism, foster greater empathy and understanding, and support families with free resources to help them navigate everyday moments and challenges. Sesame Workshop has partnered with Exceptional Minds since 2015, starting with Emmy-nominated Benny’s Story animated short.

"The Exceptional Minds team of artists on the spectrum continue to showcase their writing, producing, and animation talents on our latest Sesame Workshop short, Backyard Camping,” remarked Exceptional Minds executive director David Siegel. “This project amplifies the workplace skills of our amazing artists while shining a light on autism inclusion. Eighty percent of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed, but with Sesame Workshop’s continued partnership, we are changing that.”

See Amazing in All Children was developed in consultation with over 250 organizations and experts within the autism community. With 1 in 54 children diagnosed with autism, this initiative is designed to show that all children - autistic and neurotypical alike - are amazing in their own ways.

“Children with autism need to be understood and embraced by communities around the world,” added FCNS co-founder and president Anna Wang. “Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN) is honored to partner with Sesame to translate this important book about Julia, a child with autism, into Chinese languages. Our hope is that this will start to remove cultural stigma associated with autistic children in the Chinese community and help make the world a more welcoming place for them.”

The Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative is made possible by the philanthropic support from American Greetings and Kristen Rohr and is part of Sesame Workshop’s mission to help all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.

Source: Sesame Workshop