Sesame Street Video Helps Kids With Autism Get Comfortable Wearing Masks

by Christina Marfice
YouTube/Sesame Street

Getting kids — especially those with sensory issues — to wear masks can be tough. Sesame Street is here to help

We all know at this point that one of the best tools we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives is masks and face coverings, which should be worn in all places, inside and outside, any time we can’t maintain six feet of social distance from other people. But that can be a real challenge for kids, and especially kids who have sensory issues, like some of those who have autism. In a new video, Sesame Street seeks to make mask-wearing easier for kids with autism.

The video features Julia, a 4-year-old muppet with autism. In the video, Julia is on a video call with her dad, excited about going to the park. When her dad reminds her to wear a mask there, though, Julia’s face falls. She doesn’t want to wear a mask, because it bothers her ears and tickles her nose, she says — concerns so many other kids have.

But Julia’s dad takes it in stride, and reminds her that wearing a mask, like many other challenges in life, gets easier with practice. Together, they put on their masks — even Julia’s stuffed bunny has one to wear — and practice wearing them while Julia’s dad counts down from five. By the end of the video, a once-again-smiling Julia is ready to head to the park, safely masked up.

The mask video is part of a larger collection Sesame Street is releasing, that’s all about helping kids with all the tough things that have come with the pandemic, like fear and anxiety, social distancing, and disrupted routines.

“We know that children with autism and their families are experiencing unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that schedules, routines, and guidelines can change with little warning,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Street’s Senior Vice President of US Social Impact, said in a press release. “The new resources are designed to help families manage unexpected circumstances, familiarize children with important new behaviors like wearing masks, and incorporate practical strategies into their day-to-day lives—all with a little help from Julia.”

In March, soon after the pandemic was first announced, Sesame Street launched the Caring for Each Other Initiative, a package of resources for families navigating the fear and uncertainty of the situation. More resources have been added throughout the last six months to give families the best tools possible for safely getting through these scary and uncertain times.

The pandemic is hard — for people of all ages. But thanks to Sesame Street, maybe for kids (and especially kids with autism), it can get a little easier.