Sesame Street introduces new muppet, Julia - their first autistic character

Posted March 21, 2017

Big Bird and Sesame Street stalwart Elmo appeared on CBS's 60 minutes on 17 March, to talk with host Lesley Stahl.

And now the children's TV show Sesame Street is introducing a new muppet character with a simpler name, and a tougher brief.

"Sesame Street" is produced by Corporation for Public Broadcasting, funding for which has been targeted by President Trump's recently released budget.

"Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion.it's huge", Gordon told 60 Minutes, according to New York Daily News. It looks like Sesame Street is the latest show that will be introducing an important "first". "We hope that Julia, the Sesame Street character, will have a similar effect and inspire other writers and film-makers to reflect the diversity of the autism spectrum in their work".

SESAME Street will be welcoming its first ever autistic muppet to join Big Bird and the rest of the gang. Elmo and Abby Cadabby introduce Julia to Big Bird. Elmo will then explain that "sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things".

Diagnoses of autism have risen steadily in recent years to the rate of one in every 68 U.S. children, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

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"We heard a call to use our expertise and characters to build a bridge between the autism and neurotypical communities", Betancourt said.

"And she has autism", the website adds. She is invited to play a game with fellow muppets Oscar, Abby and Grover, where they must point out different shapes. "So it was a very easy way to show that with a very slight accommodation, they can meet her where she is".

"There is an expression that goes, "If you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism".

"Sesame Street" writer Christine Ferraro told CBS News 60 minutes: "The big discussion right at the start was: 'How do we do this?"

Julia is played by puppeteer Stacey Gordon, who told the Associated Press her 13-year-old son also has autism. Children with autism will also have a Muppet they can identify with. She was so well-received producers made a decision to have her come and play where everything's A-OK and set about designing a new Muppet and will make her TV debut in the United States on 10 April.

Over the nearly five decades "Sesame Street" has been on the air, it has established a reputation for inclusion with its characters. "I think any awareness is great", says Jennifer Salamon with Autism Connection.