PBS celebrates Autism Awareness Month with cartoons featuring characters with autism
Nation Autism Awareness month begins April 1st. There are great ways to get involved like donating to the Autism Society or wearing a puzzle pin to show your support. But another great way to show up for the cause is through spreading knowledge on what what life looks like for those with spectrum disorders. As parents we can do our part to explain autism spectrum disorders to any neurotypical kids who may not be familiar with it. And for kids who are on the spectrum, it’s so important for them to see themselves represented in mainstream media. PBS knows this, and they’re all over it.
We can always count on PBS to teach our kids things, from learning their ABCs to the correct function of a conjunction (which is why the White House’s plan to eliminate funding for the station has us madder than Ernie when he can’t find his rubber duckie). Now PBS is helping educate kids on autism spectrum disorder too, with a special lineup of cartoons scheduled to run in April.
You’ve probably already know about the new kid on the Sesame Street block, Julia. She’s new puppet styled as a four-year-old girl with autism. Julia’s first episode, Meet Julia, will air on April 10th.
PBS is showing other cartoons in April that feature characters with autism. On April 10th, Dinosaur Train will show Junior Conductors Academy, an episode where Buddy and his siblings become friends with Dennis Deinocheirus. Dennis knows tons more about dinosaurs than Buddy, but has some trouble making friends. Besides showing the episode, PBS stations across the country have teamed up with the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” initiative, with the goal of improving early identification of kids with autism and other developmental issues in order to get them the services and support they need to thrive. Look for special screenings and events in a town near you.
For kids who are too old for Sesame Street and Dinosaur Train (does anyone outgrow Cookie Monster really?) Arthur will have special episodes on April 10,11,12 and 13th featuring Carl, a character with Asperger’s syndrome. You’ll see Carl and George meet in When Carl Met George. Carl’s super memory skills save the day in He Said/He Said. If you’re looking for an easy way to explain Asperger’s to your children, this three minute clip from When Carl Met George (airing on April 10th) is a great place to start.
If these episodes leave you or your kids with questions, the PBS Parents website is a great resource. They have articles from doctors, disability experts and special education teachers on everything from identifying autism to creating inclusive environments for children with a diagnosis of autism.
There’s nothing better than snuggling up on the couch with our kids and enjoying a cartoon. Whether you’re looking to show your own child a character they can relate to or teach your kid the importance of understanding other’s differences, as always, PBS has you covered.