Meet Julia, Sesame Street's first autistic character
Sesame Street' brings Julia, a Muppet with autism, to their cast (Source: Sesame Street) Photograph: (Others)
Sesame Street, the popular pre-school educational TV show that launched in the US in 1969, has recently announced that for the first time ever it will have an autistic character: Julia is an autistic toy rabbit with orange hair who promises to keep the kids glued to the TV screens. The rabbit will make her debut in April in the US.
In conversation with CBS News, the show’s producers said, “We struggled over how to talk about autism to a young audience, because it's different for every person.”
The TV screenplay writer Christine Ferraro said that in her first episode, Julia will demonstrate some common characteristics associated with autism, such as ignoring the character Big Bird, an important character on the show when they're first introduced.
Christine said, Big Bird thinks “Maybe she didn't like me” but the other muppets tell him, “She does things just a little differently”.
In the story, Julia will also get overexcited while playing and react by jumping up and down. Instead of making fun of her, the other Sesame Street characters will join in. The writers hope that the children watching the show will address the new character as “Julia” and not “Julia with autism”.
According to Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of US social impact, "In the US, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. With Julia's introduction 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."
Sesame Street is one of the most engaging children shows known for its educational content and animated characters.