47th Annual Autism Society National Conference Report – Part II

Special Appreciation for Sesame Street and Autism


Sesame Street presented the latest version of their nation-wide initiative focused on young children with autism called “See Amazing in all Children”.  Our team at NDi Media found this initiative a game changer; progressive, visionary and inclusive.

Sesame amazing4

 See Amazing in all Children provides online resources to families, teachers and caregivers to educate them about autism, and tools to help families with everyday activities. These resources include animations, videos, storybooks and daily routine cards.

Diversity, which is a key pillar of See Amazing in All Children, has many facets; gender, language, race and very (most) importantly for this audience, differences around communication.

See Amazing in all Children has also taken up the fight against the stigma and isolation which is so often experienced by children with autism and their families. By lending their icon brands to these efforts, Sesame Workshop is pointing the way to a new world for people touched by autism.


The project centers around a new Muppet, Julia, a preschool girl with autism who does things a little differently when playing with her friends, Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Grover. Julia’s world is a natural extension of Sesame Street’s work around diversity, acceptance, and kindness – and its longstanding message: “We are all different, but the same.”  For example, Benny’s Story is a terrific animated short featuring a typical grade-schooler with autism.

 Designed as a co-engagement experience, See Amazing in All Children was developed with input from all stakeholders: parents, people who serve the autism community and people with autism such as the animators at Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit working studio for young adults on the spectrum. (Joan Ganz Cooney award June 2016)  The project offers families ways to overcome common challenges and simplify everyday activities while fostering an affirming narrative around autism.

 I attended an excellent presentation by Kayla Nalven, Content Specialist at Sesame Workshop.

 Kayla montage

As Kayla explained, Sesame Workshop’s mission is to help “all children grow smarter, stronger and kinder”  “And Muppets are the best source we have. The best way to show them being kids”, she continued, “is to start with the similarities and celebrate the differences. See Amazing in All Children simplifies everyday routines and we use the characters to do it.”

  Sesame amazing3

kid and elmo

Here are some important links to get started




Sesame Street & Autism: Highlight Reel

Autism daddy  Parent on spectrum as producer

Benny’s Story

NEW YORK, June 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Sesame Street guests, friends and Muppets gathered at Sesame Workshop’s annual benefit dinner last night to celebrate the amazing in all children and to recognize the achievements of a few amazing individuals. Among them were two young adults with autism and their program director from Exceptional Minds, who received the evening’s prestigious Joan Ganz Cooney Award for their animated video demonstrating both the individuality of children with autism as well as the employability of people with autism.

 Exceptional Minds, a school and working studio for young men and women on the spectrum pursuing careers in digital animation and visual effects, is the first non-profit to receive the award named after the Children’s Television Workshop co-founder.

 I’ll wrap up my report on the 47th Annual Autism Society National Conference with a look at Steve Silverman’s closing keynote which I found especially touching.

 Neil Smolar