Sesame Street has been breaking new ground year after year since it first aired on November 10, 1969. Over the years, Sesame Street has addressed various topics ranging from marriage and death, families of those in the military, hunger in America, kids with incarcerated parents, racism against people of color, HIV, and more.
Five years in the making, in March of 2017, Sesame Workshop officially announced their initiative to bring Autism Spectrum Disorder to the forefront of everyone’s minds. It was named, “See Amazing in All Children.” That same month, the book “We’re Amazing! 1, 2, 3” was released. It was written by Leslie Kimmelman whose own son was diagnosed with autism more than 20 years ago. The purpose of that book was to show that children on the spectrum are special and just want love the same as abled children. In April of 2017, a 4 year old little girl muppet with autism named Julia permanently joined the cast of Sesame Street. For the first time, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder were able to see themselves represented on television. Almost two years later and the impact on adults and children everywhere is clearly visible. Sesame Workshop has taken inclusion and representation a step further by having their theme park, Sesame Place become the first theme park to become a certified autism center.
Their entire staff goes through on-going training in sensory awareness, motor skills, autism overview, program development, social skills, communication, environment, and emotional awareness. The park now offers two new quiet rooms near Big Bird’s Rambling River if guests need relief from sensory stimulation. These rooms have adjustable lighting and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break. They also come equipped with a code you must obtain from the welcome center. This way, guests are provided optimal privacy. Noise cancelling headphones are provided as well, but must be returned at the end of the day. On Sesame Place’s website, they also offer links to Autism Travel which is a resource provided by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. Autism Travel gives parents the opportunity to connect with a community to share ideas, plan trips with other families, and explore travel options of some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Sesame Workshop’s efforts have hit home with Team ELM. We work with children with all kinds of special needs. Working with them on a regular basis has been eye-opening for our team members. When a company that is so visible puts the time and effort into training their team to be more empathetic and aware of others’ needs, it’s encouraging a positive change. Sesame Workshop has been changing the way children and adults view the world for 50 years. Here’s to hoping that with their passionate on-going efforts, the world continues to change in a positive way.