Title

A Critical Media Analysis of Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Examination of Symptom Presentation on Sesame Street

Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Counseling

Department

Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Kenneth Messina

Keywords

Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Media Analysis, Criteria, Social Skills, Inclusion

Abstract

The present analysis examines the diagnostic accuracy of the depiction of a child character described as having autism. Specifically, the depiction of the character Julia from the popular children’s television program Sesame Street was examined in the context of DSM5, 2013 diagnostic criteria for autism. This research study will specifically consider the television program Sesame Street, and its newest Muppet character, Julia. Specifically, this will be a look at how Julia is interacting with her peers and a critical content analysis observing if she creates inclusion, while looking at the criteria for an autism within the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5). It was hypothesized that Julia would meet the full criteria for an Autism diagnosis. Julia demonstrated clear behavioral dysregulation associated with Criterion A.1, A.2, and A.3. Limitations associated with this research study are also discussed. Although Julia does not present an entirely accurate clinical picture of an autism, the inclusion of a character with autism is valuable in teaching young children about neurodiversity.

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