Looks like there is a new neighbor coming to Sesame Street. Everyone get ready to meet Julia. Julia will be Sesame Street’s first character with autism.
This will be Julia’s first television performance, as she has been seen on the digital book series since 2015. She will be making her debut this month on both HBO and PBS.
Julia is described as a little red-haired girl puppet who always has her favorite stuffed bunny with her. The creators of the show hope that Julia's addition will help better children’s understanding about children with autism. They also hope that children with autism will have someone to relate to and identify with as they are watching.
Julia’s first episode will be based on her first meeting with Big Bird. Things don’t necessarily go has planned, as she is hesitant to shake Big Bird's hand. In turn, this makes Big Bird upset and sad. Elmo and Abby will end up helping him to learn more about Julia and autism. The first episode will also focus on her sensitivity to loud noises, another issue that children with autism often face.
Writer Christine Ferraro told 60 Minutes, “It’s tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism. There’s a saying that if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. “
Stacy Gordon, Julia’s puppeteer, has a personal connection to Julia.
Gordon has a son with autism and wishes that Julia was around when her own son watched Sesame Street. She told 60 Minutes, “Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened, and [they] would have known that he plays in a different way, and that that’s okay.”
As someone who has worked with different children with autism, this holds a special place in my heart. It will be nice to see some representation of children with autism, as it will hopefully change children’s perspectives (even if it is just a little).