Research shows Sesame Street is changing attitudes about autism

Five years after popular children’s show Sesame Street put its focus on autism, research suggests the show’s materials are helping to change attitudes about the developmental disability. 

In 2015 the TV show introduced an autistic character alongside publishing a collection of online materials with information about the condition, now, research has shown the move has changed attitudes among parents of kids with and without autism. 

Attitudes

The Sesame Street and Autism website provides resources for parents and children including videos, interactive activities, storybooks and more.

According to findings published by the journal Autism, the website has made a difference for families whether they are personally affected by autism or not. 

Researchers assessed levels of bias toward children with autism in 473 parents of children on the spectrum and 707 parents of children without the developmental disorder. The evaluations examined attitudes and knowledge about autism, strain and stigma, and parenting confidence. 

The evaluations were conducted both before and after the parents reviewed the See Amazing website. 

Research

The study found that parents of autistic children had less bias toward kids on the spectrum than other parents before looking at the website. However, after looking at the website, bias reduced among the parents of children without autism and both groups of parents had comparable levels of bias. 

Many parents of children with autism showed better attitudes and more knowledge about the disorder after spending time on the website, helping them to feel more empowered. 

In the journal, the study’s authors suggested that acquiring knowledge in this form may serve as an easy, quick way to reduce bias without potential harmful consequences toward autistic individuals. 

Credit: @LEGOfoundation on Twitter

The results of the research are an encouraging step in approving attitudes towards autism. If you would like to learn more about autism visit the National Autistic Society website, or view the Sesame Street and Autism website here

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