Autism Awareness Month and PBS KIDS will be airing some special shows featuring autistic characters in an effort to promote awareness, acceptance and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The highlight of these shows will be Sesame Street introducing a brand new Muppet character named Julia who has autism. Autistic characters will also be featured in episodes of the animated series Arthur and Dinosaur Train. PBS KIDS hopes that children with autism will find these characters relatable and these shows will help educate the broader public about this medical condition. These will definitely be some valuable shows full of teachable moments. Here is a listing of when each show will debut this month:
4/10 Sesame Street "Meet Julia"
When Big Bird doesn't understand why the new girl on the block won't talk to him the Sesame Street gang explains to him that Julia may act differently than other kids but is special in her very own way. Julia, a Muppet with autism, makes her debut in a television episode of Sesame Street. Julia is performed by puppeteer Stacey Gordon, who uses her own experiences raising an autistic son to help make the actions of the character realistic.
Visit SesameStreet.org/Autism to read a free online storybook featuring Julia and to view some videos featuring the newest Muppet character. The website also includes an autism reference section that includes activity and discussion ideas plus informational tips.
4/10 Dinosaur Train “Junior Conductors Academy”
kids are all excited! Why? Because they’re off to Junior Conductor’s
Academy in Laramidia, to try to become Junior Conductors First Class.
Buddy has a feeling he’s going
to be a star in class, until he meets Dennis Deinocheirus – a kid who
knows even more dinosaur facts than he does! Can Buddy get over his
disappointment that he’s not the smartest kid in class, and make friends
with Dennis (who seems like he’s having trouble
making friends on his own)?
Click here for some Autism Awareness Month tips and resources courtesy of Dinosaur Train.
4/10 Arthur “When Carl Met George/D.W. Swims with the Fishes"
is excited about spending time with his new friend, Carl, who seems to
know all kind of cool facts about trains and about… well lots of things!
Then George learns that
Carl has Asperger's Syndrome - a form of autism that makes Carl see the
world differently than most people. Can George and Carl remain good
friends - and perhaps even learn from each other? / D.W. and James
enter the pre-school swim meet and recruit their
big siblings to coach them. All goes swimmingly until Arthur and Molly
start taking their jobs a little too seriously. Who's this race about,
4/11 Arthur “Pets and Pests/Go Fly a Kite”
a mouse loose in the Read home! And D.W. wants it gone…NOW! When traps
fail, Arthur enlists the help of an expert mouse catcher…a fearless
hunter who laughs in the
face of danger: Nemo?? / While playing in the park, Binky, Muffy, and
Ladonna stumble upon an abandoned kite. After failing to find the owner,
the trio decides to take joint custody of the toy. But sharing it is
easier said than done…
4/12 Arthur “Carl's Concerto/Too Much of a Good Thing”
has agreed to play the accordion for George’s puppet show. But his
routines are getting in the way of rehearsals. Now George must decide:
keep Carl and risk the show,
or replace Carl and risk his friendship? / Buster enlists Binky’s help
to keep him from gorging on delicious Tuvaluna cookies. Will Buster’s
self-control hold...or crumble?
4/13 Arthur “He Said, He Said/Bunny Trouble”
A special episode of Bionic Bunny is interrupted, and Arthur, Buster, and
George try to remember what comes next. But Carl is the only one who
can straighten out the story.
/ D.W. is excited to be taking care of the class bunny, Larry. But when
Larry is feeling adventurous and wanders off, it’s up to Ladonna the
“Bunny Whisperer” to help get him back.
These shows will be rebroadcast throughout the month after the initial airing listed above. Check your with your PBS affiliate for more details regarding local programming schedules.
In addition to incorporating the topic of autism into PBS KIDS programming, the PBS Parents website has articles from doctors, disability
experts and special education teachers on topics ranging from identifying autism to creating inclusive environments for autistic children. Additionally, PBS Learning Media has great teacher resources and activities for children with autism that can be found here.