PBS Kids and Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness with PBS Kids

PBS Kids has been a leader in autism awareness, developing original programming for television, web, and mobile platforms. Learn about the children's program and find links to games for kids and companion resources for parents and educators.

PBS Kids has been a leader in autism awareness, developing online and mobile resources for families and children as well as original television programming designed to make kids with autism visible, celebrate their strengths and not just their challenges, and build acceptance.

Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children

In October 2015, Sesame Workshop created Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, a national initiative aimed at families and communities with children 2 to 5 years old. See Amazing in All Children offers families ways to manage common challenges, to simplify everyday activities, and to grow connections and support from family, friends, and community.

A statement from Sesame Workshop:

In the U.S., 1 in 59 children is diagnosed on the autism spectrum (ASD). In fact, almost every school and university in the country has students with autism. While the diagnosis is common, public understanding of autism is not. The lack of understanding about the condition can make life even more difficult for children with autism. A recent study reveals that they are five times more likely to be bullied than their peers — treatment no child should endure. While it’s true there can be significant differences between people with autism and their peers, all children want the same things: to feel safe, happy, and loved. And all children have something to contribute — unique perspectives and talents that help make the world a richer and more interesting place.

The See Amazing in All Children website includes videos for parents and kids, daily routine cards, tips for siblings and friends, an impact study of the initiative, and more. You can also download the Sesame Street and Autism app.

Meet Julia: A Muppet with Autism

In 2017, Sesame Street welcomed a new character to the block: Julia, a young girl who has autism. A special premier episode features all the Sesame Street friends meeting Julia and learning to appreciate all types of people.

Julia and Grover Search for Patterns

Julia's great at slowing down and noticing details — and teaching Grover to identify patterns.

Different Ways to Say Hello

We all communicate in our own way. Help kids explore and celebrate the differences with Julia and Rosita!

Related resource

Arthur

When Carl Met George

George 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?

Carl's Concerto / Too Much of a Good Thing

Carl 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?

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.

Thomas and Friends

Some parents of children on the spectrum say that Thomas and Friends is a favorite show, and they suggest that the easy-to-read facial expressions on the characters may be one reason why.

Thomas and Friends: Many Moods

Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends are very busy helping passengers and moving cargo. But they are very touchy and lots of things happen during the working day. Try to guess what moods do they have during the day - suprised, angry, happy... You will learn a lot about human moods while helping these train engines. Watch the video below, or play the game online.

Games and activities

Face Puzzles
Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often find it hard to recognize facial expressions and the emotions behind them. Learning how to copy emotional expressions can help them better understand and control their own emotions and interpret the emotions of those around them. This simple puzzle-piece game will help them explore how facial parts move for different expressions.

Thomas & Friends Autism Collection: Keep On Puffing Teamwork Exercise
This autism-friendly group activity illustrates the value of perseverance. School is the perfect opportunity for ASD learners to begin understanding the importance of hard work and appreciating the feeling they have when they have accomplished a difficult task. Remember, friends can always help you when you need an extra push!

Thomas & Friends Autism Collection: Calm Your Engines Relaxation
Children with autism spectrum disorders can become overly excited or anxious, and keeping a group of learners with ASD calm can be a challenge. Use this Thomas & Friends autism-friendly group activity to help ease anxiety and promote relaxation through deep breathing.

Thomas & Friends Autism Collection: Train Chain Sequencing Activity
Many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have difficulty with the concept of sequencing. Thomas and his friends are here to help! Use this activity when working one-to-one with your students in speech therapy, occupational therapy, or discrete trial/ABA (applied behavior analysis) instruction.

Related resources

Dinosaur Train

Junior Conductors Academy

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? it’s not always easy to make friends with someone you don’t understand, but if you take the time and make the effort, it might not be as hard as you think. Watch online >

Related resources

Mack and Moxy: A Spectrum of Possibility

Mack and Moxy introduces children to important causes like Hunger Awareness, Early Childhood Education, Saving Wild Animals, Emergency Preparedness, or Autism. In this episode, kids will learn how children with autism benefit from inclusion and acceptance while they are improving everyday.

Related resource

More PBS autism resources

In addition to integrating autism into PBS KIDS programming, the PBS Parents website offers helpful resources for families, including articles from doctors, disability experts and special education teachers on topics ranging from identifying autism to creating inclusive environments for children with autism

For teachers who have students with autism in their classrooms, visit PBS Learning Media to browse their multimedia library of resources.

Reading Rockets (2017)

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Dr. Joanne Meier
Dr. Joanne Meier
February 14, 2014
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