AP NEWS

Julia’s new Sesame Street muppet family stars in autism awareness campaign

April 5, 2019

In recognition of April as World Autism Month, a new autism awareness campaign was recently launched featuring “Julia”, a four-year-old Sesame Street Muppet with autism, and her family, to help parents, kids and others learn about autism and related conditions.

What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a development disorder that affect a person’s ability to communicate and impacts their behavior, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)estimates that one in every 59 babies in the United States will develop ASD and more than 3.5 million Americans currently live with autism. What causes autism is not known, but CDC reports indicate the number of U.S. children affected increased 119.4 percent from 2000 (one in 150) to 2010 (one in 68).

Meet “Julia” and her family

A new public awareness campaign was recently launched in both English and Spanish featuring “Julia”, a four-year-old Sesame Street Muppet with autism, and her family, to promote awareness and includes an online component with information and additional resources available at www.ScreenForAutism.org and www.DeteccionDeAutismo.org

“We are committed to creating a more inclusive world for people with autism, and that starts with early screening and timely intervention so that people with autism can live their fullest lives. There is considerable work to be done in overcoming obstacles that may delay a diagnosis - the first step toward improved future outcomes,” said Autism Speaks President and CEO Angela Geiger in a press release. “With this new campaign, we hope to give families the tools they need to identify early signs, feel empowered to get their children screened and seek support if they need it.”

Autism Speaks is a national non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy and support for individuals with ASD and their families, increasing understanding and acceptance for people on the autistic spectrum and advancing research into causes and therapies for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. The new multimedia campaign was created in partnership with the Ad Council, with pro-bono support from ad agency BBDO NY and creative materials developed in partnership with Pinterest. BBDO’s sister agency, Dieste, worked on the Spanish translations. Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street, also collaborated on the project as part of their 2015 initiative: “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” and features videos, storybooks, online activities and digital interactive content starring Julia and her family.

“Children with autism often face unique challenges, as do their parents and siblings. But every family faces challenges of some sort, which is why we are focusing on what all families have in common,” Sherrie Westin, President of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop, said in a press release. “In a family, everyone has different roles, challenges, and strengths, and everyone can learn from one another.”

April is World Autism Month and families and supporters are encouraged to share their stories and voice their support on social media using #LightItUpBlue.

“We’re focused every day on increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism, and World Autism Month is an important moment for a conversation about how to create a more inclusive world for all,” Geiger said.

To learn more about World Autism Month and the new public awareness campaign, visit www.AutismSpeaks.org or www.autism.sesamestreet.org