The Ad Council and Autism Speaks partner with Sesame Workshop to encourage early screening for autism in new multimedia public service campaign
New video PSAs aim to lower the age of diagnosis by empowering parents to understand the signs of autism
NEW YORK (JULY 23, 2019) – Though autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 18 months, most children aren’t diagnosed until between 4 and 5 years old—and studies indicate that age is even higher for low-income and minority children. A new bilingual awareness campaign featuring Julia, a four-year-old Sesame Street Muppet with autism, launched today to promote early screening and diagnosis, which can open a world of possibilities for the estimated 1 in 59 children with autism.
The multimedia campaign, including new video public service announcements, grew out of a partnership between the Ad Council, Autism Speaks and Sesame Workshop. The campaign stars Julia and her Sesame Street friends and family, helping parents to learn the signs of autism and understand the importance of early screening and diagnosis, ultimately making a meaningful difference in the lives of children with autism.
“Receiving an autism diagnosis is just the first step in creating a better future for a child on the spectrum, and there are multiple benefits to getting that early diagnosis,” said Autism Speaks President and CEO Angela Geiger. “Research shows that early intervention can have a positive impact in so many ways, and we are dedicated to helping parents learn the signs and feel empowered to help their children lead their best lives.”
While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening for every child at the 18- and 24-month well-child visits, a recent survey conducted by the Ad Council and Autism Speaks found that 66 percent of parents of children ages 6 and under say their child has not been screened for autism. This prompted the creation of the campaign focused on promoting early screening and the resources and possibilities that are available once a child is diagnosed.
With pro-bono support from ad agency BBDO and sister agency Dieste, the English and Spanish-language videos show Julia taking on everyday activities in her unique way, whether it’s playing music with her friends or communicating with her family using a “talker,” an electronic tablet. Julia’s adventures show audiences that the more her family and friends understand her world, the brighter she shines.
“Early screening made a lifetime of difference for Julia and her family, and we’re thrilled to share her story with families through this campaign,” said Sherrie Westin, President of Social Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop. “Through our Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative, Julia has shown that all children are amazing in their own ways. With the right support, every child can reach their full potential.”
The spot encourages parents to visit ScreenForAutism.org or DeteccionDeAutismo.org, where they can find resources in both English and Spanish to help identify the signs of autism, access an autism screening questionnaire, seek information from Autism Speaks’ Autism Response Team and find supports for before, during and after diagnosis. The site also includes free, bilingual resources for families from the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative. Building on the print, online and outdoor public service announcements released in April, the new videos will appear nationwide in donated media, in TV and digital formats.
“Innovative partnerships, like this one with Sesame Workshop and Autism Speaks, are critical to continuing the national dialogue about autism and helping parents understand the lifetime of difference early screening can make for children with autism,” Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, said.
“Sesame Street has such an emotional and relatable connection with parents. By featuring Julia, we instantly become approachable for a topic that can sometimes be intimidating for them,” said Kevin Mulroy, Creative Director at BBDO NY. “Julia’s positivity and spirit help bring levity while communicating the signs of autism.”
The CDC reports the overall prevalence of autism in the U.S. is 1 in 59 children, yet the reported prevalence among white children is 7 percent higher than African-American children and 22 percent higher than Hispanic children – pointing to potential missed or delayed diagnosis in those groups. The campaign aims to help lower the age of diagnosis for all children, no matter their ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Studies show that early diagnosis and intensive behavioral intervention improves learning, communication and social skills in young children with autism spectrum disorder.
To learn more about early screening for autism, visit ScreenforAutism.org or join the conversation with @AutismSpeaks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For personalized support and questions, contact Autism Speaks’ Autism Response Team at 1-888-AUTISM2, en Español at 1-888-772-9050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. A combination of genetic and environmental factors influence the development of autism, and autism often is accompanied by medical issues such as GI disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. To find resources, join a fundraising walk or make a donation, go to www.AutismSpeaks.org.
About Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically-funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit sesameworkshop.org.
About the Ad Council
The Ad Council brings together the most creative minds in advertising and media to address the most worthy causes. Its innovative, pro bono social good campaigns raise awareness. They inspire action. They save lives. To learn more, visit www.adcouncil.org, follow the Ad Council’s communities on Facebook and Twitter, and view our the creative on YouTube.
BBDO's mantra is "The Work. The Work. The Work." Every day, BBDO people in 289 offices in 81 countries work day by day, job by job and client by client to create and deliver the world's most compelling commercial content. For 13 years in a row, BBDO has been ranked the most creative agency network in the world and for seven years, including 2018, BBDO has been named Network of the Year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – more than any other agency network. BBDO has also been chosen Agency of the Year multiple times by the leading industry trade publications including being named one of the world’s top ten most innovative companies in advertising by Fast Company for the past two years. BBDO is part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE-OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), a leading global marketing and corporate communications company.