Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Name is Frank. I Work at Sesame Street. I am "Autism Daddy"








           

(originally written & published on September 27, 2015)

Hi my name is Frank. 

I've been blogging anonymously as Autism Daddy since April 2011. 

I've also been working at Sesame Street as Frank since May 1994. 

In the early part of my career at sesame I travelled the world working on foreign versions (co-productions) of Sesame Street. 

Throughout the late '90s & early 00's I went to China, Japan, South Africa, Canada, England, Hungary, and Brazil helping to train foreign broadcast teams in how to make their own local version of Sesame Street. 

It was extremely hard work but it was truly amazing!  I was in my late 20s and early 30s with a new wife and no kids and I was traveling the world and going to lots of places that I would probably never think about visiting. 

In college I never thought I'd be traveling to Shanghai China to work with the voice dubbing talent to guide them in now to do Ernie's voice and Elmo's voice on their version of Sesame Street called "Zhima Jie". 

I never thought I'd be in Johannesburg, South Africa helping to teach their post production team on how to plan their show, "Takalani Sesame", across the entire season to get the most educational impact. 

I never thought I'd be in São Paulo helping to audition the puppeteers to bring Sesame Street ("Vila Sesamo") back to Brazil for the first time since 1977. 

However, I haven't been on an international trip for sesame since 2007. 

What happened?










The king was born in 2003 and was diagnosed with autism in 2005.  

And around that same time in 2005, when things were still quite crazy at home with his majesty (and they are still quite crazy 10 years later!) there was a new very high profile co-production starting in Indonesia. And I was honored when my boss asked me to be the Sesame international producer on it. But in the budget there was 3-4 trips to Indonesia at about 2 weeks each scheduled over the course of the following year. 

And wifey and I had a sit down and we talked about it and it just all seemed like too much.   The king was having a rougher time back then.  The diagnosis was still kinda new. Wifey & I were struggling.  She really needed my help in the evenings and on the weekends.  And it just felt like too many days away from home and Indonesia felt way too far away for me to be in case there was an emergency. 

So I had to go to my boss and say, due to my situation at home and my son's autism I just don't think it's possible for me to travel as much as I used to...

So for a year or two I was put on lower profile projects that required less travel (in the UK & Brazil) and then in 2007 I got a job shift that required me to not have to travel much at all. 

And now here it is 8 years later I'm still here at sesame, in a similar role to the one I shifted into in 2007. 

And yes, I will plainly say that my child having severe autism and later epilepsy probably totally changed the trajectory of my career. 

Did it hold me back? 

Probably. But who knows?  However, I truly have no regrets about making that change.  It was better for my life, for my wife's life, and most importantly for my son's life I believe.

And now it's 2015 and I've been working at sesame for over 21 years. 

And writing & blogging as Autism Daddy for over 4 years. 

So why did I decide that now is the time to come out and reveal who I am and where I work?










Because now is the time that my two worlds are colliding. 

For the last year I've been working on an outreach initiative here at Sesame that deals with autism. 

Sesame has a long successful line of amazing outreach initiatives over the years. 

For example, Sesame recently produced an initiative to help kids with incarcerated parents (http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/incarceration). 

Sesame also recently produced an initiative to help military families. http://www.sesamestreetformilitaryfamilies.org/ 

And now, next month, in October sesame will be launching its autism outreach initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children,  to help autism families and the general public.  

And I was heavily involved in the production of all the video segments that you will see next month. I was the Sesame producer and helped to find a few amazing filmmakers who found some truly beautiful autism families.  And together with a team of other folks at sesame I feel that we've created a really great music video to an extremely catchy tune which hopefully you will be know all the words to and will humming in your sleep next month and several films that follow a few autism families stories that I expect tons of you to relate to. 

So basically I'm outing myself for 2 reasons  

1) because I'm extremely proud of the work I've helped accomplish and I want to share it with y'all and say  "Hey check this out. I worked on this"

and 

2) because, not to toot my own horn, but with over 120,000 followers on Facebook I've got a pretty darn large autism platform at my disposal and I want to promote this Sesame Autism initiative big time to help it reach the most eyeballs.  And if I did that as my anonymous self some of you would be thinking "why does he keep promoting this?"    Well now you know why.  Cuz I work there, and I want as many people to see these videos and use these resources as possible.

Now the initiative is not just about videos and films.  There's lots of other stuff that will be on the website when it goes live in mid to late October.  For now that is top secret.

So there you go.  So in the next days & weeks I will be teasing the launch and also promoting some ways for you to get involved in our social media campaigns.

And when it goes live you can find it all, not on the show itself, but on the web at www.sesamestreet.org/autism

But for now, that's it.

And in case you were wondering... 

I don't expect this announcement of who I am and where I work to change my Facebook page or blog much at all.  

Wifey will still be wifey... The king will still be the king or his majesty.  You still probably won't see their faces.  

And I'll still be Autism Daddy or AD even though now you know that I'm Frank who works at Sesame Street.

THE END!





-- If you're gonna shop Amazon anyway, can I ask that you enter Amazon by using the search box above or by going to http://www.amazon.com/?tag=a050ef-20  This way I can make a little money to help pay for my son's after school & weekend therapies.  This blogging thing has been awesome & life changing for me... but I must admit that it's taking up a lot more time than I ever thought... so if I can make a few bucks it'll make it easier for me to justify....Love you all! Thanks!!



54 comments:

  1. Just makes me love you more! Thanks for helping give our children a voice!

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  2. Amazing work!!! I cannot wait to see it all live!

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  3. Well, thank you Frank! For your awesome blog and all the help and support you give us autism parents & for the new Sesame Street project dealing with autism. We can't wait to see it, I'm sure it will be AWESOME.

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  4. Thats is so awesome the work your doing with this Campaign so happy :)

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  5. God has placed you where he needs you......Bless you and the work that you and Sesame Street have been doing and are to premier in Oct.

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  6. Now I understand the meaning of why you're put on this earth.. to be a awesome dad to the King.. and your work.. You see... you're the choosen one for helping others... you and wifey and King.. How awesome!!! kiki_v@hotmail.com

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  7. You're a good man, Frank. I look forward to the production!

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  8. You're a good man, Frank. I look forward to the production!

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  9. Holy meatballs....my son loves the Count!

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  10. Holy meatballs....my son loves the Count!

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  11. What??!!! Now I even love you more!! My nine year old severe ASD son LOVES Sesame Street!! Each year my husband and I think maybe we shouldn't go see Sesame Street Live for the 9th time because it may not be "age appropriate", but we've decided...screw that! It brings him such joy and he's learned his letters and numbers because of Sesame Street. Our DVR is filled with numerous episodes. We even drove from Michigan to Sesame Place in PA for a vacation we knew he would enjoy. Sending thanks to all of you at SS. You are SO important to the autism community! Looking forward to the production as well!

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  12. Very cool! I have been a Sesame fan since I was about 2 years old and (so nearly all of the show's run) and have always been amazed at the talent of everyone working on that show. Now I'm an Autism Mom of 2 amazing kiddos on the spectrum (and one that's not) and we've been living with those diagnoses for 6.5 years. I'm so happy to learn that someone who truly understands the complexities of Autism is involved with this organization. I think it will be so helpful in presenting Autism in a way that's accurate, honest and accessible. The accessible I knew that Sesame could handle. It was the other two that I wasn't as sure about. Now I know that the other two qualities will be there! So thank you for that!

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  13. Bravo, Frank! Proud to know you for these past 16 years or so!

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  14. Thank you AD for working hard for our Autism community! My whole family is excited to see the new Sesame Street Autism project. My 3 yr old boy has autism and we are always looking for ways to learn more and to bring more awareness to our community.

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  15. Oh my word you made me cry with pride!
    My son is 16 and has autism!
    The kids here in England don't understand autism or other Neuro disorders and this initiative will help massively with that!
    Well done Frank on this project and on helping your wife and son have a wholesome life!

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    1. Hi, I'm in England and I understand. My 8 year old son has Autism.

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  16. As long as SS is not partnering with A$ on this, I thinks it's FANTASTIC! I actually learned to speak English from Sesame Street. Love all the characters! 10Q, 10Q, 10Q! (I'm learning only die hard 70's fans will understand that)

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  17. I've followed you for a while now, but have never posted. I just wanted to say that no matter how unfair we feel our children's Autism is, and how much we would do/give up to change it, there are those parents that make differences in the lives of others even if they weren't looking to do that. As much as I've mourned and ran through a gamut of emotions regarding my daughter's Autism, I haven't sat around and let it stagnate me, at least not purposefully. In the course of it all, I found joy and a sense of well-being in knowing that my efforts have helped other families. I trust that at this point you know that your efforts and life path has done the same, and you should be proud and we all thank you for that. For reasons beyond our understanding, we were thought to be strong enough for our children to be in our lives, and making positive differences in others lives validates those reasons.

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  18. Hi Frank. My name is Christy. I'm a PK teacher of children with autism. I'm also a 47 year old Sesame Street junkie. You rock. Thanks for sharing your news with us. I am SO proud of you. I can't wait to share this with all of my peeps. How about some apps for us, please?

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  19. What a huge and awesome surprise! Thank you for revealing your true identity. You are such a special person (with an amazing voice).:) Keep up the good work!

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  20. Autism daddy, you friggin rock. All the best to you on your new project. Very exciting.

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  21. Very cool. Waving to you from South Africa! :)

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  22. Very touching.... just makes us feel like we (families) are not alone

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  23. Wow! I knew you were in "entertainment" and thought you were some big deal talent agent or something... but this is even better! Thank you for all you do!

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  24. As an autism Grandma I love to read your blog and am a huge Sesame Street fsn, can't wait to see the new initiative

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  25. Hi Frank... nah you'll always be Autism Daddy. You weren't kidding about freaking out if we found out what you do. I'm totally freaked!!! :) I am so excited to read about your work and the initiatives with Sesame Street. Congratulations on all the hard work and accomplishments you have. I am curious about the type of programming and look forward to seeing what is unveiled. I do hope that with your input those of us dealing with the more severe challenges of autism in our families is addressed. I've been a follower for sometime, even before following on FB and I know that you understand the difficulties that some of our children have to deal with and how that effects our entire family as well. Thank you for being a part of this initiative and helping to spread awareness for all families with autism.

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  26. I've read your blog since the beginning and I knew who you were anyway, and where you worked, but I am just as proud as everyone else on here !

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  27. Community-Autism-Resources.org

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  28. That Is So Awesome Great Job My Son Watches It All The Time He Just Turned 10 And is High Functioning on The Autism Spectrum

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  29. I looove this revelation! Way to go, AD!!! Congratulations and good luck on this endeavor. You're the coolest!!

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  30. That is so great that Sesame Street is doing an autism initiative. I am fairly high functioning on the autism scale and so is my daughter but it is still hard being hard being anywhere on the scale because of anxiety disorders and unacceptance by people that are neurotypical. I started my website and blog to promote compassion and understanding of autism. My store ar Zazzle.com/AutismSpectrumStuff is in that vein and I highlight new research on autism on my blog: AutismSpectrumStuff.wordpress.com. I hope you will check it out. Thanks!

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  31. Thank you, Frank, for everything you do for our community!

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  32. Yet another reason to love Ad and Wifey and the King and lol might explain some of the Kings love of Sesame Street - but then again who doesn't! Looking forward to the coming month!

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  33. Oh and I can't wait to go back and read your blog

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  34. this is fantastic news. Thank you for being a voice for our children who won't ever really speak for themselves. You are a blessing to a lot of people and your family is fortunate to have their AD! So, I guess you CAN tell us how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?? LOL Sorry, I learned to read watching SS in the 70s and I just couldn't resist.

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  35. Frank Aka A.D. this is so amazing! I have followed your blog for quite some time now! I am so excited to see what comes of these productions! Thank you for all of your hardwork! I also have a blog do you mind if I share this post?
    Thanks! Hannah

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  36. Frank Aka A.D. this is so amazing! I have followed your blog for quite some time now! I am so excited to see what comes of these productions! Thank you for all of your hardwork! I also have a blog do you mind if I share this post?
    Thanks! Hannah

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  37. Just want to say that I think you are doing great work with "The King". And it is pretty cool that you are doing what you do to help with awareness of autism through your work.

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  38. Thanks! Thanks for being there. Thanks for being who you are. From an autism grandmom who has followed you for a couple of years now - and also logs into amazon via the link in the "About" category on your Facebook page.

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  39. Just in time for Vaccine Injury Awareness Month (October)!

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  40. So happy that Sesame Street is doing an Autism initiative. Both of my sons (one with Asperger's, the other with Learning disabilities) loved watching SS growing up. So did I. Keep up the great work, Autism Dad! :)

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  41. If my son could talk (he's much like your son), he would be asking for an autograph from his number one Muppet, Kermit. Yep, Sesame Street (and Barney) will be our companions for life. You get to have them at home and work! It's great that you are there to lend your first-hand perspective to the project.

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  42. Hello, Frank! I happen to be married to a Frank also (my Frank works for the federal government), and we have a 16-year-old son with autism. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  43. I was honored to meet Emily Perl Kingsley and Jason last year on Buddy Cruise (Count Me IN!). She has done so much on Sesame Street to promote acceptance of all people with different abilities. Now, you're taking it another step further! Kudos to you!

    And, how cool is it to have a job where you get to hang out with Elmo, Big Bird, Snuffy, Bert, Ernie and my favorites, Oscar and Grover?!? I'm super jealous!

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  44. I am in awe of you, I am truly proud of you and Sesame Street also!! I have loved them my whole life and both my boys are avid watchers. I have an Autistic sister, this will help so much to explain things to them! How absolutely wonderful!

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  45. I cannot wait to see and hear Sesame Autism! ! Loads of respect and awe...for you AD!!! Sesame Street is one of the best shows Ever done for children.

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  46. This is wonderful Frank! Can't wait to see all of the videos.

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  47. I just read an article about you "coming" out on The Mighty, so am a new follower. But I have to say first: Wow! How cool that you get to work at Sesame Street!!!! 2) My daughter is your son's age, perhaps a year younger, and is diagnosed with autism AND epilepsy too! I look forward to seeing more about the autism initiative and I look forward to catching up and reading your blog here on out.

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  48. Thanks for sharing the ups & downs of being a real live autism parent(s)...sometimes I cry for you..sometimes I laugh & giggle....

    Oh! and thanks for using your platform at SS to make people aware that every kid is different & is loved no matter what....

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  49. I'm at a loss for words. I thought you was an amazing person before. Now knowing you are part of a show that my son watched everyday...Thank you!! Thank you to you your wife and The King!!!

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  50. Thank you for sharing your experience!
    Jennifer
    bebewellness

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