A week ago, when Sesame Street launched the See Amazing project, I had the pleasure to meet Julia and Benny; two cute and colorful little ones that made me cry my eyes. Maybe I was too tired after a long day of work and potty training with Sammy, but I felt very emotional with the amazing stories featured on the website.
— One + One is Four (@unomasunocuatro) October 22, 2015
One week after, and without tears, I think about Julia and I get very excited of having a character with autism as part of the Sesame Street cast. I grew up in Colombia watching Plaza Sesamo every afternoon after school, and in the recent years particularly Elmo, Abby Cadabby and the Cookie Monster, have been present in our family in many ways: stuff animals, T.V. shows, coloring, books, birthday celebrations, etc. Even though Sammy is not really into Muppets (he still gets a little scared), I know that many kids out there enjoy the show, and Julia will be a great way to make them feel part of the gang. Big thumbs up Sesame Street for this awesome initiative!
During the last four years I’ve been researching about autism; reading blogs written by autism parents or researchers in the field, books about diagnosis, therapies and early behavioral intervention, watching movies, attending workshops, etc.; looking for answers, support, encouragement, or inspiration. Family members and friends constantly ask me about autism, and I happily share my findings with them; but even if they look like they are listening, I can tell that not always my message is received the way I intend… sometimes, even I feel that I don’t really know what I am saying… until I found Benny’s story.
This simple animation encloses what I’ve learnt about autism during these years. It highlights the value of the difference and the need of inclusion for our children. It is empowering for those who live in the spectrum and educational for everybody else. It is a fun way to talk about inclusion and set a really nice example of what autism awareness really means.
Benny’s Story was created and voiced by Shane Mckaskle and a group of artists at Exceptional Minds, a non-profit vocational center and working animation studio featuring artists on the Autism Spectrum! I can’t avoid feeling emotional when I think about Sammy’s future; helping him to find his super power is one of my main goals in life, and these organizations are key for the empowerment and development of our loved ones. Another thumbs up!
Julia, off course, stole my heart since the beginning. I am sure, kids with autism will relate to her, as well as parents will use her to answer some questions. Her storybook helped me to talk about autism with Emily; she as “the big sister”, is learning to include Sammy in her life, and sometimes she needs support as well. This story opened a door to a nice conversation, she easily related to Elmo and Abby Cadabby and even compared it with some of her own experiences at the park when we play with Sammy and interact with other kids.
I can’t wait for the Spanish version of this project! or at least subtitles on the amazing videos featured on the website. I am latina, and I am trying hard to keep my Hispanic heritage alive within our family. I hope to be able to share soon these wonderful resources with my Spanish speaking readers.
Meanwhile, let’s stand up and enjoy the amazing song! Fortunately, music is a universal language!