Three-year-old Eva Hart, who is on the autism spectrum, is a big fan of Sesame Street’s Julia, an autistic character. The youngster recently received a Julia doll of her own and a video of her opening the package has been watched by thousands of people online.
“She had an immediate connection with Julia because she has a lot of similarities to her,” said Eva’s mother, Tracy. “They both exhibit arm flapping, are sensitive to loud noises and speak with words, but not full sentences.”
Tracy and Scott knew their daughter was different from most children before she was a year old. They noticed rocking, a lack of eye contact, and delayed speech and fine motor skills. They took her for testing, and when she was two and a half years old she was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Eva is a fan of Sesame Street and is especially fond of Elmo. When Julia was introduced this spring she instantly became another favourite. Her parents wanted to get her a Julia doll but couldn’t find one. Then her grandparents found it was possible to get one with a $100 donation to the Yellow Feather Fund during Autism Awareness Month. Sesame Street’s Yellow Feather Fund was set up to provide life-changing education to children in need. The doll arrived in May and Eva was full of smiles when she saw it. A video of her opening the gift was posted on the Yellow Feather Fund’s Facebook page and viewed by many people.
“Through having Julia on Sesame Street, Eva has really blossomed with song,” said Scott. “She took to her right away so it was great to be able to get the doll.”
Eva often copies Julia when speaking, saying things like, “Play! Play!”
She has an extremely good memory and learned numbers and letters through Sesame Street and on her own. An early intervention program provides her with activities twice a month, and she also has speech therapy.
Tracy and Scott take part in a program for parents, where they have been able to share with people going through similar things and met people whose children Eva now gets together with for play dates.
Eva is bright and sociable and enjoys meeting people and checking out any new things they bring with them.
To view the video of Eva, go to https://youtu.be/hDfUJvwllCc
Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning it affects each person in a different way. It impacts four areas of development: cognitive functioning, social interaction, behaviour and communication skills.
Those with autism often show strengths in: reading, drawing, computer skills, memory, music and visual spatial skills.
Weaknesses include: impaired social relationships, communication problems, dependence on routine, behaviour problems, abnormal responses to sensory stimulation and difficulties sleeping, eating and toilet training.
More information is available on the Autism Canada website at http://autismcanada.org/