Wearing a mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus can be a challenge for children with autism. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” is launching brand new videos and resources featuring Julia, a 4-year-old Sesame Street Muppet with autism, to help autistic children and their families cope with some of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The resources, available for free in English and Spanish on Sesame Street, are designed to help families adapt and create routines, build flexibility, and cope with the challenges of living in the time of COVID-19, like having to wear masks and learning to understand physical distancing. The resources released include:
New Virtual Playdate Videos with Julia, including a playdate with Elmo where the friends learn how to adapt an activity they usually do in person, and a video call with Julia’s dad Daniel where they practice wearing their masks, an experience rarely addressed from a child’s perspective.
A Park Problem, an animation featuring Julia and her family out at the park for the first time in a long time. So many things are the same, but some things are different and take getting used to.
“No Matter What,” a digital storybook teaching children that even when the world around us looks and feels different, some things stay the same no matter what—like the love within a family.
New articles and routine stories, including strategies for parents and caregivers to help children cope with—and even embrace—change routines.
“We know that children with autism and their families are experiencing unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and that schedules, routines, and guidelines can change with little warning,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of US Social Impact, Sesame Workshop.
“The new resources are designed to help families manage unexpected circumstances, familiarize children with important new behaviors like wearing masks, and incorporate practical strategies into their day-to-day lives—all with a little help from Julia.”
The initiative was developed in consultation with over 250 organizations and experts within the autism community.