One in 68 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism, according to the advocacy organization Autism Speaks. Yet despite the prevalence of autism, these children are bullied more often as their neurotypical classmates. One study found that 46% of kids with autism in middle school and high school reported to their parents that they had been bullied in the past year.
Our favorite monsters from “Sesame Street” are seeking to reduce the number of kids who suffer simply because their brains work differently than other children. The Sesame Street Yellow Feather Fund is seeking to put together a new anti-bullying book to help teach kids the importance of inclusive play. The fund created a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter in order to help them achieve this mission and hopes to raise $75,000 by May 11.
The funds raised will go towards writing, editing and illustrating this new children’s book featuring the “Sesame Street” puppets, as well as towards creating an audiobook including voiceovers from the “Sesame Street” cast themselves.
The book will be translated into Spanish (and other languages potentially), and it will also include supplementary materials for children, teachers and caregivers in order to help them better understand autism spectrum disorder and how to teach kids to understand ASD as well.
This will be a huge undertaking, but “Sesame Street” believes it will be invaluable in helping kids to learn about autism from an early age and how to engage with classmates who have the disability. The show has already broken ground in this territory with the introduction of a friendly yellow puppet Julia, who has autism. The other characters on “Sesame Street” learned about Julia’s autism, as well as how to play with someone who might behave differently than them.
For example, in her introductory scene to “Sesame Street,” Julia exhibited sensory issues. She didn’t like getting paint on her fingers when the characters paint together and she got very overwhelmed by hearing loud sirens. Julia also didn’t answer right away when Big Bird talked to her or wanted to give her a high-five, which made him mistakenly believe she didn’t like him. Eventually, Big Bird talked to Alan and learned that Julia doesn’t communicate the same way as other kids, but that she is still a lot of fun and a great friend.
Watch it below:
“Sesame Street,” which is created by an independent nonprofit called The Sesame Workshop, has never turned to Kickstarter before, but they believe that this important mission merits crowdfunding. (PBS and HBO distribute the TV show, but are not involved in financially supporting the content, according to the campaign website.)
The Kickstarter has raised about $30,000 of their goal of $75,000 so far. If you pledge $10 or more to this awesome endeavor, you will get an advanced digital copy of the storybook, including printable sheets you can use to help teach your kids in a hands-on way. Pledge amounts increase up to $5,000, with various rewards for the different amounts.
As always, “Sesame Street” is making it their goal to make every child feel loved and included, all while educating them at the same time. To contribute to this worthy undertaking, visit their Kickstarter page today.