Sesame Street's Newest Muppet 'Julia' Has Autism

Jay Jacobs
March 21, 2017

Over the past year, Julia made appearances in Sesame Street promotional material, print media and workshops, especially Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children - an information campaign and initiative that aims to normalize autism among children across America.

"A programme like "Sesame Street" that introduces these issues early to a whole generation could help significantly increase understanding, tolerance and empathy". "How do we talk about autism?,'" one of the show's writers, Christine Ferraro, told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl.

The team at Sesame Street worked with 250 autism organizations and experts and child psychologists to develop Julia, and have instilled the character with many characteristic traits of ASD children. Julia is nervous to meet the big yellow star.

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

Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of USA social impact, said: "In the United States, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder". Betancourt said one in 68 children in the United States had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

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But there are some TV shows that depict autism and other learning disorders with much accuracy, either because the actors themselves live with them or because the aim of the show is to reach out to people with related conditions. Julia's online presence was a huge success, and once fans were introduced to Julia, they quickly called for her to be seen on television, as well. "So, it was a very easy way to show that with a very slight accommodation, they can meet her where she is", Ferarro said.

"Had my son's friends been exposed to his behaviours through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened", she told 60 Minutes.

"She needs to take a break", the muppets' human friend Alan calmly explains. Julia, a Muppet with autism is a little red haired girl, whose "Muppet human" is the mother of a child with autism, with different verbal communication skills than Big Bird and others. "If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism", Kelsey Rohr said on YouTube. "I'm just hoping to bring her the heart".

Today, 1 in 45 children have autism in the United States, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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