“One of my favorite things about Julia [Sesame Street character with autism] is that she allows more kids and adults to see themselves represented and included as one of the gang on Sesame Street,” stated Andrea Cody (FCRH ’11), Senior Project Manager of Sesame Street U.S. Social Impact. Cody credits her education at Fordham for instilling the Jesuit concept of “men and women for others” and, ultimately, for driving her to find a workplace where she could serve the broader community.
In her recent visit to GSE professor Diane Rodriguez’ Special Education Foundations class, Cody focused on Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, and highlighted available resources for teaching reading to students with autism; free, bilingual materials for parents like daily routine cards; and a series of three storybooks featuring Julia for both the broader community and the autism community. Rodriguez commented that Ms. Cody’s visit was “absolutely awesome and the students loved it.”
Fordham GSE early childhood special education student Katelyn Cody (she and Andrea Cody are not related) noted that opportunities like Ms. Cody’s visit have helped her and her classmates acquire important knowledge, gain valuable experience, and benefit from new perspectives. “Sesame Street was such a big part of my childhood,” shared Katelyn, “and plays an important role in the lives of many of the students that my classmates and I will encounter in our careers. It was so amazing for all of us to learn about the ways in which we can connect Sesame Street and their projects to our own classrooms.”
Katelyn added, “As a master’s student in early childhood special education, the majority of my experience in the classroom thus far has been with preschoolers who are on the autism spectrum.” She is particularly excited about using Sesame Street’s books featuring Julia with students. “These books are a great way to explain to children why their peers on the autism spectrum may behave a little bit differently and how we all can work to be friends with everyone despite our differences.”
As the lucky recipient of the Julia muppet at the end of Ms. Cody’s presentation, Katelyn plans to use Julia in her classroom as a stuffed “buddy” that students can use for play and to help them calm down when they are feeling overwhelmed.