Local Organization Applauds Sesame Street for New Character with Autism

21 March, 2017, 09:17 | Author: Benny Bass
  • Andy Warhol

Sesame Street has welcomed a new Muppet to the block - she's four-years-old, she has red hair and she has autism.

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.

"In the USA, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder", Jeanette Betancourt, vice president of US social impact at Sesame Workshop, told the Associated Press. Stacy Gordon is the veteran puppeteer playing Julia, and she also has a son with autism. It's a very personal job for Gordon, whose son has autism.

She is also shown covering her ears and reacting badly to a loud noise, which is also explained gently and calmly. The show will then highlight how this diversity of muppets, despite their differences, can play together in harmony.

Julia is already a staple in Sesame Street digital and print books, and will appear in the 47th season of Sesame Street in April, the Associated Press reported. But children will have a new way of recognizing autism next month - through a new character named Julia.

Her name is Julia, and it is hoped she will help the show's young viewers better understand children on the autism spectrum.

In the episode, Julia demonstrates common characteristics of autism, and when Big Bird is introduced to her, she ignores him.

"I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on "Sesame Street" who has autism, I would like her to just be Julia", said Christine Ferraro.

One in 68 kids falls on the autism spectrum, and most of our kids will find themselves interacting with someone with autism at some point, maybe even in their classroom. I trust them in taking steps to ensure a nuanced portrayal of Julia, and can only see this as a big positive going forward. They wanted to help normalize autism using a single character, but autism presents differently in each person with the disorder.

"I remember him having meltdowns and his classmates not understanding how to react".

This is part of a multifaceted initiative by Sesame Workshop, the organisation behind the programme, called "Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children".

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