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Over the past several weeks there has been a spotlight on Autism. We have the newly revealed ‘Sesame Street’ character Julia, the new online video training program introduced by OCALI, and let’s not forget the PLAY project that several county boards are utilizing.

Two out of the three resources discussed are focused on children and parents and for good reason. According to the CDC one in 68 children are diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The numbers are simply staggering.  Let’s take a look at the three resources described above and give a quick review on how they can be beneficial to parents, schools and the community as a whole.

Sesame Street’s ‘Julia’

Sesame Street's new character, Julia (center) who has autism, with Abby and Elmo. For now, Julia will appear only in materials associated with the autism initiative, not in the broadcast program.

According to the New York Times blog post; Sesame Street Has a New Character With Autism.  Will Kids Without It Ever See Her? ,  Julia has been under construction so to speak for several years now. Sesame Street wanted to be deliberate in how her character was portrayed as well as her gender. Many times ASD is associated with boys and they wanted to break down the misconception that it only effects boys, but girls as well.

When will Julia debut on the show? That question appears to be a sticking point. Sesame Street launched its effort called ‘Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing In All Children’, only online .  In addition to short clips of video around many topics in relation to Autism, the site contains a storybook and testimonials.  Many are claiming that Sesame Street went wrong by not placing Julia on the show for all children to see. The producers are not ruling out the possibility and are seeking input from the Autism community prior to moving forward. Conclusion, good job PBS for making an effort and creating some nice resources.  Now lets get Julia on the show!

OCALI’S ASD Strategies In Action

According to the DODD Pipeline

“ASD Strategies In Action, is a groundbreaking online video training program that provides practical information and skills, demonstrated with real-life examples, filmed in a variety of settings, for those who interact with individuals with ASD”.

What sets this training program apart from the others? It’s mobile and online. It’s not another set of papers you print and hope someone reads. Conversely its an online, mobile friendly training, that can simply be used anywhere at any time. It has broad enough content that it’s helpful for parents, educators, service providers and more. Stay tuned for reviews as it is set to premier late November.

The PLAY Project

Several county boards of DD have incorporated the PLAY project into their early childhood intervention programs for children under the age of 3 diagnosed with ASD. This is not a new project but has been getting more attention lately. PLAY is often described as an evidence-based autism early intervention program, that includes a set of principles, methods, and techniques.  When used effectively it reduces symptoms associated with Autism, and can be a significant part of a training program for developing professionals.  Richard Solomon, M.D., a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, developed this program in response to the lack and availability of intensive early intervention services for children with ASD. He designed the PLAY Project, early intervention program, as a cost effective, practical approach. The testimonials I have heard regarding this project say it gives parents a way to communicate with their child in a way they have never experienced before.

In conclusion, there are a variety of resources available to aide the parent or professional when it comes to individuals with ASD. Some resources are new and some not so new. As always the challenge is getting the information into the hands of those that need it. Too often we hear of uninformed parents, or untrained teachers, and para-professionals. There are tools at our fingertips, lets help spread the word and be educated.


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