Autism finds a friend on Sesame Street, new character created

Karen Weintraub

A series of new videos from Sesame Street star a Muppet with a magic wand, pink wings and friends with autism.

The videos are part of a new effort aimed at "normalizing" autism, making families with the condition feel included and reducing the bullying that is five times more often aimed at autistic children than neurotypical ones.

Although one in 68 American children have autism, the public still doesn’t understand much about the condition, says Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of social impact for the Sesame Workshop. Autism is defined by limits in communication and social interactions, as well as repetitive behaviors like rocking or hand flapping.

The videos, available online at, show the home life of parents and siblings of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, emphasizing what makes them "amazing" and what they have in common with the general population. The Sesame Workshop autism project, launched last week, also includes an online storybook, curriculum material, an app and customizable cards to help autistic families map out routines to get through the day.

Ari Ne’eman, president and co-founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, a group run by and for autistic adults, says he’s thrilled by the effort.

“This is about sending a message that autism is normal and it’s not to be afraid of,” says Ne’eman, adding that many people on the spectrum — like everyone else — grew up watching the TV program. “It’s very powerful to know that autistic children are as welcome on Sesame Street as every other kind of America’s children.”

Continue reading this article from USA Today here

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