A brand new character will be joining Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, and Elmo on childhood favourite television show Sesame Street- Julia, the very first autistic muppet.
Julia is a young girl with light orange hair, green muppet eyes and her favourite toy rabbit, and is set to debut on the beloved children’s television show in April.
The character had been initially introduced around one year prior in digital and print illustrations as a part of one campaign’s goal to remove the stigma surrounding autism, which currently affects around one in every 68 children in America.
“It’s tricky, because autism is not one thing. It’s different for every single person who has autism,” said Christine Ferraro, one of the show’s writes, to CBS news.
Hopes for the Character
Ferraro stated that she has hopes that Julia would be able to help children familiarize themselves with people with autism in their lives so that “it’s familiar, and they see they can be their friends too.”
Instead of being treated as an outsider, the reoccurring issue seen in children with autism as they attempt to go about life in school and society, Julia is considered a part of the gang.
In one of the new scenes, Julia plays a game along with Abby, Grover, and Oscar, that requires them to spot certain objects, such as circles, triangles, or squares.
“You’re lucky,” Abby says to Grover. “You have Julia on your team, and she is really good at finding shapes!”
“The ‘Meet Julia’ episode is something that I wish my son’s friends had been able to see when they were small,” says Stacy Gordon, the puppeteer behind Julia who also has a son on the spectrum. “I remember him having meltdowns and his classmates not understanding how to react.”
Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president in Sesame Workshop’s US Social Impact, stated that she along with her team “wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children.”
“We’re modelling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share,“ she mentioned.
The episode entitled Meet Julia airs this 10 April on HBO as well as PBS, with additional episodes online.