Autism can be detected as early as 18 months, but most children aren’t until between four- and five-years-old before they are diagnosed.
To improve these statistics, a bilingual awareness campaign featuring Julia, a four-year-old Sesame Street Muppet with autism, has been launched by the Ad Council in partnership with Autism Speaks, BBDO and sister agency Dieste.
"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 has recommended 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% of parents of children ages six and below say their child has not been screened for autism.
"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 is encouraging parents to visit ScreenForAutism.org or DeteccionDeAutismo.org, where they can find resources in both English and Spanish to identify the signs of autism, access an autism screening questionnaire, seek information from Autism Speaks’ Autism Response Team and find support for before, during and after diagnosis.
"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," said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council.
This story first appeared on campaignlive.com.