A few years ago, “Sesame Street” introduced Julia, a new muppet with autism. Now the four-year-old character is helping with the show’s new campaign advocating the importance of early screenings for autism.
In a partnership with Autism Speaks, Sesame Workshop – the nonprofit production company behind “Sesame Street” – and the Ad Council, the campaign uses two ads showing Julia using tools to communicate with her loved ones. In one, Julia uses noise-reducing headphones while playing instruments with her friends to show that kids with autism can be sensitive to loud sounds.
The goal of the campaign is to help parents identify the signs of autism and understand that early screenings and diagnosis are very important. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening for children at the 18- and 24-month well-child checkups, but a recent survey finds 66% of parents with kids six and younger say their child hasn’t been screened for autism. Most kids are being diagnosed at ages four or five, and it’s even higher for low-income and minority children.
The ads encourage parents to go to ScreenForAutism.org or DeteccionDeAutismo.org, which have resources in both English and Spanish to help identify the signs of autism and find support before, during, and after diagnosis.