AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH

Sesame Workshop is teaching viewers how to live with and love those on the autism spectrum.

Aired on April 24, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING.

APRIL IS WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH AND THIS YEAR, AS IN YEARS PAST, AUTISM SPEAKS IS CELEBRATING IN A VERY BIG WAY.

THE ORGANIZATION FOUNDED BY MY FRIENDS AND HIS LATE WIFE SUZANNE.

LAUNCHING A NEW PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN WITH OUR GOOD FRIENDS AT THE SESAME WORKSHOP BETWEEN JULIA, THE FIRST SESAME STREET MUPPET, WITH AUTISM.

THEIR GOAL, TO PROVIDE RESOURCES ABOUT AUTISM IN BOTH SPANISH AND ENGLISH TO HELP LOWER THE AGE OF AUTISM DIAGNOSIS AND TO EMPOWER PARENTS.

HERE TO TELL US MORE ABOUT RAISING AWARENESS AND CELEBRATING THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO LIVE WITH THE DISORDER AND THEIR FAMILIES, ANGELA, WHO IS THE CEO AND PRESIDENT OF AUTISM SPEAKS.

A GOOD FRIEND FOR A LOT OF YEARS.

GOOD TO SEE YOU.

GOOD TO SEE YOU TOO, JACK.

I WANT YOU TO EXPLAIN TO US THE NOTION OF AUTISM AND WHAT IT ENCOMPASSES.

I SUSPECT A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK IT IS A SINGLE CATEGORY CONDITION.

I THINK THAT YOU'RE CORRECT.

IT IS ONE OF THE MISCONCEPTIONS.

YOU MAY KNOW ONE PERSON WITH AUTISM AND THINK EVERYONE IS LIKE THAT BUT IT IS A SPECTRUM.

YOU HAVE MANY WHO ARE HIGHLY FUNCTIONING IN DAILY LIFE, EMPLOYED, WORKING, AND THEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO NEED 24/7 CARE FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES AND MOST ARE SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE.

YOU'VE SAID THIS.

I'VE HEARD IT SAID OFTEN.

IF YOU MET ONE PERSON WITH AUTISM, YOU'VE MET ONE PERSON WITH AUTISM.

BECAUSE OF ALL THE VARIETY OF CIRCUMSTANCES THAT YOU TALKED ABOUT.

LET'S DISPEL ANOTHER NOTION OUT THERE.

THE IDEA THAT AUTISM CAN BE CAUSED BY VACCINE.

WHAT HAS SCIENCE TOLD US ABOUT THAT?

AFTER DECADES OF RESEARCH, IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM.

AND YET PEOPLE STILL CLING TO THIS.

YEAH.

IT'S INTERESTING.

I THINK THAT'S REALLY SOFTENED OVER THE YEARS.

FOR EXAMPLE, THE REASON COVERAGE IS FEATURING AUTISM MUCH LESS THAN SOME OTHER ISSUES.

AUTISM SPEAKS.

TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION AND WHAT YOU'VE BEEN DOING AND THEN I WANT TO GET INTO SOME SPECIFICS.

IT IS STILL A YOUNG ORGANIZATION.

NOT EVEN 15 YEARS OLD.

AND IT WAS REALLY THE BRAIN CHILD, AS YOU SAID, OF BOB AND SUZANNE WRIGHT AND LEADING ORGANIZATIONS CAME TOGETHER TO COALESCE, TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN ADVOCACY AND RESEARCH AND THEN HELPING FAMILIES AND PEOPLE WITH AUTISM DIRECTLY.

I MENTIONED THE PARTNERSHIP.

AND JULIA, THE NEW PERSON ON SESAME STREET.

WHAT IS THE CONCEPT BEHIND THAT?

JULIA IS 4.

AND THE IDEA IS THAT HER PARENTS RECOGNIZED THESE SIGNS.

SHE CLEARLY HAD A DIAGNOSIS EARLY.

AND WE'RE USING HER AS A MODEL FOR WHEN YOU GET EARLY INTERVENTION, IT MAKES LIFETIME OF DIFFERENCE TO THE FAMILY.

SO WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THE IDEA OF EARLY DIAGNOSIS MAKE?

WELL, EARLY DIAGNOSIS LEADS TO EARLY INTERVENTION.

RESEARCH SHOWS EARLY INTERVENTION CAN MAKE A LIFETIME OF DIFFERENCE.

I WAS JUST WITH A FATHER TODAY, STEVEN, WHO TOLD US HIS SON WAS NONVERBAL AND WAS DIAGNOSED, THEY RECOGNIZED THE SYMPTOMS EARLY.

THEY HAD FORMAL DIAGNOSIS WHEN HE WAS 3.

GOT HIM TO A SPEECH THERAPIST IN THE HOUSE AND AS HIS FATHER SAYS, HE WON'T STOP TALKING.

SO WHAT SORT OF THINGS SHOULD PARENTS BE LOOKING FOR?

ANYONE BE LOOKING FOR?

SO AUTISM CAN BE DIAGNOSED BETWEEN 18 MONTHS AND 2 YEARS OF AGE.

YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE DEVELOPMENTAL MARKS.

EYE CONTACT, SOME WORDS LEADING UP TO THAT, TO 2, AND CERTAINLY MAKING EYE CONTACT AND INTERACTING.

ONE OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS IS NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE, IF YOU HAVE A LOSS OF WORDS OR SOCIAL SKILLS, YOU SHOULD TALK TO YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.

DOES THAT MEAN FOR ANYONE OUT THERE WATCHING, I HAVE A CHILD WHO IS NOT REALLY BABBLING YET OR TALKING YET, OH, MY GOODNESS, THEY MUST BE WITHIN THE AUTISM EX SPECTRUM?

YOU CAN GO TO AUTISM SPEAKS.ORG AND TAKE A SCREENING TOOL.

IF YOU'RE CONCERNED.

IF YOU ANSWER A FEW SIMPLE QUESTIONS AND IT TELLS YOU WHETHER OR NOT YOU SHOULD CONSULT A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.

WHAT SORT OF SERVICES, ONCE A DIAGNOSIS IS MADE, CAN BE PROVIDED FOR THE CHILD AND THE CAREGIVERS.

WE TALKED ABOUT IT BEING ON THE SPECTRUM.

SO IT VARIES BY CHILD.

IT WILL PROBABLY INCLUDE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY AND IT MAY INCLUDE THINGS LIKE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY, SPEECH THERAPY, SOMETIMES MOTION, DIFFERENT THINGS.

ONE OF THE THINGS THE ORGANIZATION IS DOING IS GETTING BEHIND THE NOTION OF LEGISLATION.

LET'S SEE WHAT WE CAN GET THE GOVERNMENT TO DO TO HELP US.

TELL US SOME OF THOSE EFFORTS.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE'RE WORKING IS THE AUTISM CARES ACT.

IT IS THE FUNDAMENTAL BILL THAT PROVIDES THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR AUTISM RESEARCH AND CARE.

WHAT HAS BEEN IN PLACE SO FAR AND WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO GET IN PLACE IN THE FUTURE?

SO, ONE OF THE THINGS WE'RE HOPING FOR IS CONTINUED INCREASED RESEARCH FUNDING.

IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT AUTISM WAS FUNDED LESS THAN $10 MILLION 15 YEARS AGO.

IT WAS THAT MINIMAL.

IT IS NOW IN THE HIGH $200 MIL MILLIONS.

IT STILL PALES IN COMPARISON TO THE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

BUT IT PROVIDES FUNDING FOR THE MEDICAL TREATMENT CENTERS AROUND THE COUNTRY THAT TREAT CHILDREN WITH AUTISM.

WHAT ARE WE SEEING?

YOU'LL GET SOME SORT OF STUDIES COMING OUT AND THEY'LL GIVE YOU NUMBERS.

IN TERMS OF THE INCIDENTS OF AUTISM.

WHAT ARE WE SEEING IN TERMS OF RELIABLE NUMBERS?

SO THE CDC'S OFFICIAL NUMBER IS 1 IN 59.

IT IS PRETTY WIDELY RECOGNIZED THAT THAT NUMBER IS PROBABLY, IT IS TOO LOW.

THAT WE SEE STATES THAT HAVE NUMBERS 1 IN 33.

1 IN 42.

SO I THINK IT IS DEFINITELY, WE DEFINITELY SEE A YEAR OVER YEAR DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY THINGS ARE CALCULATED DIRECTLY.

LAST YEAR THEY WERE REPORTING A 15% INCREASE IN AUTISM.

SO IT WAS DEFINITELY ON THE RISE.

YOU HAD A SENSE THAT THERE IS SOME MOMENTUM THERE.

SOME BIPARTISAN HELP.

I WAS ON THE HILL LAST WEEK HAVING BEEN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE OF THE I BARELY GOT AN ASK OUT AND PEOPLE WERE TELLING ME HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS TO THEM.

I THINK PROBABLY EVERYBODY KNOWS SOMEBODY, RELATED TO SOMEBODY.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

A NUMBER OF THE GOALS THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS, AMONG THE NUMBER OF GOALS.

ONE IS AWARENESS.

AND WE'VE CERTAINLY BEEN WORKING ON THAT.

THE OTHER IS UNDERSTANDING.

GETTING MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO UNDERSTAND, JUST BECAUSE SOMEBODY MIGHT BE ON THE AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DOESN'T MEAN THAT THEY CAN'T BE PART OF SOCIETY.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE MAKING PROGRESS IN TERMS OF UNDERSTANDING?

I DO.

WE REALLY THAT I HAVE HAD A COUPLE YEARS AGO TO CREATE A WORLD THAT'S MORE UNDERSTANDING FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM.

WE'RE SEEING IT IN SOCIAL MEDIA.

PEOPLE ARE POSTING THEIR STORIES AND HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE, THAT'S AMAZING.

WHAT A GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT.

AND BEING SUPPORTIVE FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE A LOT OF CHALLENGES.

AND YOU SEE IN SOCIAL MEDIA, OUT IN THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD.

THE GOOD DOCTOR.

WHICH IS A FABULOUS TELEVISION SHOW THAT ALSO HAPPENS TO FOCUS ON A DOCTOR ON THE SPECTRUM.

IT IS INTERESTING HOW THEY TELL THE STORIES.

I WOULD MANNING IT HELPS IN TERMS OF THE UNDERSTANDING ASPECT.

ABSOLUTELY.

IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO TALK WITH YOU.

YOU'RE DOING MARVELOUS WORK OUT THERE.

GOOD LUCK TO YOU.

GOOD SEEING YOU AGAIN.

> A REMINDER TO YOU, FOR MORE INFORMATION ON AUTISM SPEAKS, YOU CAN VISIT OUR WEBSITE ON METROFOCUS.ORG.

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