April 21, 2017

April is Autism Awareness Month

Nearly a quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all. The goal was to assure that each person with Autism Spectrum Disorder is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and The Jim Henson Company and Dinosaur Train have teamed up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Initiative. The aim is to improve early identification of children with autism and other developmental disabilities so children and families can get the services and support they need.

DT_Junior Conductors Academy 3Kiddie Academy is a sponsor of the popular PBS series, Dinosaur Train and you may have seen Kiddie Academy’s message after watching your dinosaur friends! As a supporter, we’re sharing a downloadable Dinosaur Train coloring sheet of Dennis, Dinosaur Train’s new character with autism.

Dr. Stephanie Meyer is a child psychologist who helped advise on the development of the Dennis character for Dinosaur Train. Like all dinosaurs, this new friend, Dennis Deinocheirus has his own dinosaur features. And, like all of us, he has strengths in some areas and challenges in others.

She wrote about the character and episode, “Dinosaur Train offers a new approach to portraying the varied behaviors of children, including those with autism spectrum disorder. Its central insight is that we have more in common than different. When parents, teachers and children remain curious and open, autism spectrum disorder becomes beside the point, allowing all children to explore friendship in new and mutually supportive ways.”

Meeting Dennis can help children be more understanding of ways the character is just like Buddy and his family, while sharing his differences in ways that kids can understand. Download the coloring sheet here and print out at home for lots of coloring fun.

Visit PBS.org to find more Dinosaur Train and Autism Awareness Month resources.

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