Autistic girl joins Sesame Street

A muppet with autism is joining the Sesame Street family, though she’s not scheduled to appear on TV yet.

Unlike most children diagnoses with autism spectrum disorders, Julia is a girl, notes the LA Times. One in 42 boys have autism, compared to 1 in 189 girls — meaning about five times more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism.

“We’re trying to eliminate misconceptions, and a lot of people think that only boys have autism,” said Sherrie Westin, Sesame’s executive vice president, global impact and philanthropy.

Julia stars in a “digital storybook,” We’re Amazing, 1,2,3. She’s is introduced as a long-time friend of Elmo.

In one scene, as she swings with Elmo, Elmo introduces her to his friend Abby. But Julia keeps swinging and doesn’t look in Abby’s direction, prompting Abby to say, “your friend doesn’t like me.”

But that’s not true, Elmo responds. “It’s just hard for her to talk when she’s swinging,” he explains.

Julia flaps her hands when she’s excited, takes a long time to answer questions, is alarmed by loud noises and knows all the words to songs.

Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children includes videos about autism; cards that use Sesame characters to teach basic skills to children with autism (such as “Elmo goes potty”) and overviews on “being a friend,” “brothers and sisters,” “see the amazing,” and “what to say to a parent of a child with autism.”

When Cookie Met Sally

Sesame Street’s When Harry Met Sally parody is kid-friendly, and charming, writes Laura Bradley on Slate. Cookie learns to wait in line.

‘Sesame Street’ cuts deal with H, B, O

Sesame Street episodes will debut on HBO, then air on PBS nine months later. The partnership will allow Sesame Workshop to produce 35 new episodes a year, up from 18, and fund a Muppets spinoff and a new educational series.

As Mitt Romney said, Big Bird can survive without taxpayer funding, writes Jonathan Tobin on Commentary.  In the 1960s, when there were only three channels, federal funding for “educational TV” made some sense, he writes. Today there are endless cable, satellite and streaming options, including many channels of children’s programming.

Big Bird vs. preschool

Watching Sesame Street appears to help disadvantaged children get off to a good start in school, according to a new study. In the program’s early years, when it wasn’t available in all areas, children who had a chance to meet Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie were less likely to be held back in school.

The effect was stronger for boys, blacks and children living in low-income areas.

Watching Sesame Street was as effective at improving academic readiness as attending preschool, researchers Phillip Levine and Melissa Kearney told the Washington Post.

However, preschool teaches important social and emotional skills, they said.

Big Bird can’t close the achievement gap, responds Sam Chaltain. “The problems that beset poor children run a lot deeper than the 30 million word gap,” he writes.

Improvements in school readiness didn’t affect high school graduation rates, college enrollment or success in the job market, the study found. Big Bird’s fans weren’t any more likely to escape poverty as adults.

Of course, fade-out is the primary problem with Head Start. Readiness isn’t everything.

Head Start will move to a full-day, year-round program, reports Ed Central. Tat will be very expensive. The feds want to do less micromanaging — but also want to require more home visiting, higher attendance rates and limits on suspension of children with behavior issues.

School’s Out

Alice Cooper and the Muppets perform School’s Out.

Unsafe on Sesame Street

Sesame Street‘s early seasons come with a warning to parents: Not safe for today’s children. Producers cite Cookie Monster’s dietary choices and children shown riding bikes without a helmet and running through a construction site, writes Peter Weber on The Week. “In the opening scene of the very first episode, a young girl being shown around Sesame Street by a grown man, Gordon, who is not her father and is holding her hand.”

Weber highlights 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn’t show today’s kids, including Ernie’s encounter with an O-pusher. “Kids, if a strange man approaches you and starts to open his trench coat, run,” advises Weber.

Furry Potter and The Goblet of Cookies

Sesame Street presents Furry Potter and The Goblet of Cookies.

Enumerate!

This season, Sesame Street will parody Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, X-Men, Batman and possibly Game of Thrones.

Two Robins

Sherlock vs. Murray-arty

Benedict Cumberbatch, the Sherlock Holmes star, faces arch-nemesis Murray-arty on Sesame Street. The mystery: Are there more apples or oranges?