Sesame Street introduces Julia, its first character with autism

Julia, a Muppet with autism, made her first appearance alongside Elmo in digital storybook We're Amazing, 1,2,3. Now ...

Julia, a Muppet with autism, made her first appearance alongside Elmo in digital storybook We're Amazing, 1,2,3. Now she's set to appear in puppet form on television.

Sesame Street has introduced its first character with autism.

The latest resident of the colourful titular street is Julia, a Muppet designed to expose kids to people with autistic traits.

Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro introduced Julia to viewers of US current affairs show 60 Minutes.

She said creating the character was challenging because autism is different in every person who has it.

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"It's tricky because Autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism. There is an expression that goes, 'If you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism,'" she said.

The show's writers worked with autism advocacy organisations to make sure the character adequately represented the condition.

Ferraro said Julia was meant to familiarise children with autistic traits so that when they met people with autism in real life "they see that [they] can be their friends too".

In Julia's first episode, Big Bird holds out his wing out to shake hands with her but she does not respond. That becomes a teaching moment for the characters on the show.

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Julia is one of the multiple characters the show has added to reach out to specific communities of children, such as kids with same-sex parents, military families and kids with an incarcerated parent.

Julia first appeared in a digital storybook in 2015, called "We're Amazing, 1,2,3".

 - Stuff

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