New 'Sesame Street' character Julia will help to normalise autism

21 March, 2017, 02:07 | Author: Benny Bass
  • Lesley Stahl watches a taping of “Sesame Street”               CBS News

The creators of "Sesame Street" announced Sunday that the popular show would introduce a muppet named Julia who has autism. For Julia's character, "Sesame Street" did extensive research and worked with autism organizations, educators and child psychologists to decide which characteristics the new Muppet should have.

Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of USA social impact, said: "We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children. Just as we look at all children as being unique, we should do the same thing when we're looking at children with autism".

An example is in the first episode featuring Julia.

Julia doesn't talk much, and she has trouble sustaining eye contact with other people. He tries to befriend Julia, but she doesn't speak, a reaction that makes Big Bird think she's rude or doesn't want to play with him.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Big Bird is anxious that Julia doesn't like him at first.

The newest resident of "Sesame Street" has orange hair and a fondness for her toy rabbit.

I don't know about you, but I definitely watched Sesame Street as a little kid. "As the parent of a child with autism, I wished that it had come out years before, when my own child was at the Sesame Street age", Gordon said.

A redhead who loves to sing and remembers the words to lots of songs, Julia will debut on the show for preschoolers on April 10 after a five-year outreach effort to families and experts on autism, Sesame Workshop said on Monday.

Badesch said that it was obvious the committee "really wanted to get it right - and they got it right", with Julia's character. Julia's first time on the small screen will focus on her meeting Big Bird, who is confused when Julia doesn't immediately respond to his welcome.

Christine went on to explain that the decision to include Julia's jumping game was because "that's a thing that can be typical of some kids with autism".

"We had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird", Elmo said. "They would have known that he plays in a different way and that's OK". Like many PBS shows, it's a crucial way to bridge learning gaps for children.

Sesame Street is bringing in a new character with autism to help educate children on the condition. "This is a significant step in improving public understanding of autism, and making people on the autism spectrum feel more accepted".

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