Sesame Street’s Autism Initiative Yields Tangible Results

Sesame Street's Julia with her Family

Here at Enabling Devices, we’re big fans of “Sesame Street” and its creators at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the beloved television show. We were especially pleased that in 2015, “Sesame Street” created a new website that focused on autism. “Sesame Street and Autism: Seeing Amazing in All Children,” and its related products, were designed to address the needs of children with autism and their families and to educate typically developing children and their parents about the disorder. The creators also hoped to increase empathy and inclusion with the online materials.

Including videos and stories starring Julia, a new pre-school aged character with autism spectrum disorder, as well as tips, information and videos for parents, the website also spurred the development of print story-books and an app. In 2017, Julia became a cast member of “Sesame Street” and the first new character to join the show in a decade!

Based on the results of a new study published Aug. 25, 2020 in the journal Autism, the Seeing Amazing in All Children initiative has achieved its objectives and more.

The study, conducted by Cheryl L. Dickter, Associate Professor of Psychology at William & Mary, and her colleagues, suggests that the Seeing Amazing in All Children website materials “can reduce implicit bias against children with autism and help mitigate some of the psychological issues associated with parenting children with autism.”

According to Disability Scoop, researchers arrived at their conclusions by assessing “levels of implicit bias toward children with autism in 473 parents of kids on the spectrum and 707 parents of those without the developmental disorder.” The assessments, which looked at “attitudes and knowledge about autism, parenting confidence, strain and stigma, were conducted before and after the parents reviewed the ‘See Amazing’ website.”

Before looking at the website, parents with typically developing children had more bias toward children with autism than parents with autistic children. Yet, after viewing the website materials, parents with typically developing children showed levels of bias that were comparable to those of the parents with children with autism.

In addition, parents with children on the autism spectrum felt “empowered” by reading the website materials.  According to Disability Scoop, many of these parents “showed better attitudes and more knowledge about the developmental disorder after spending time on the website…”

We always knew we loved Sesame Street! If you love the show and website too, check out Enabling Devices’ ABC Elmo #2135 and Giggle and Bubble Elmo #2257.