'Sesame Street' introduces its first ever autist character

Mar 21, 2017, 00:33
'Sesame Street' introduces its first ever autist character

Sesame Street has announced they'll soon be introducing a brand new character to the infamous street: her name is Julia - she is the first Muppet to have autism.

In her first episode, Elmo will explain that Julia does things a little differently than her neighbors, explaining to Big Bird, who felt Julia didn't like him because she didn't shake his hand.

Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of US Social Impact, said she and her team "wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children".

As for other characters, the show conducted extensive research, including consultations with educators and child psychologists and, in this case, autism organisations, to understand how best to normalise autism for non-autistic children. "There is an expression that goes, "If you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism", Ferraro added. To get children educated at such a young age about autism is a fantastic leap forward. In 2015, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that Sesame Street was a very effective low-priced educational supplement for children in economically disadvantaged areas. Writer Christine Ferraro told Stahl that it's important for the show to normalize autism for children, especially since autism spectrum diagnoses have skyrocketed in the past 20 years or so.

"The "Meet Julia" episode is something that I wish my son's friends had been able to see when they were small", Gordon said.

Confused, Big Bird thinks "that maybe she didn't like me". "Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion.it's huge", she told "60 Minutes". She appeared in the story 'Sesame Street and Autism', created by author Leslie Kimmelman, whose son has autism. "Well, so obviously, they had learned", she says. Julia is nervous to meet the big yellow star.

The National Autistic Society are also thrilled about Julia's character.

And in this video, she and Elmo play peek-a-boo, and also educate kids on how to play side by side.

Julia, the first Muppet with autism, will debut on "Sesame Street" in April.


The four friends then learn how to play together so they all have fun and feel comfortable. Speaking to the United States news programme 60 Minutes she explained: "Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion...and like her...[is] huge".