Sesame Street introduces Julia, its first character with autism
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Mar 20, 2017,
Mar 20, 2017, 12:12
Julia is a first in the almost 50-year history of the show, which has been found to have a profound educational impact on children. Now she's set to appear in puppet form on television.
A couple of years ago, Sesame Street took a major step toward reaching out to even more children by introducing a character named Julia, a Muppet meant to represent an autistic child.
Julia's puppeteer, Stacey Gordon, also happens to be the mother of an autistic son. "Because it is different for every single person who has autism", she tells Stahl. "There is an expression that goes, 'If you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism, '" she said.
And, as Ferraro explained, the objective of her character is so that when children "encounter people with disabilities in their real life it's familiar".
Big Bird says of his introduction to Julia, "I thought that maybe she didn't like me".
"60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl spoke to Big Bird and Elmo (hey, who better to talk to than the Muppets themselves?) about helping adjust to how Julia reacts to situations. "We live with a grouch". While "Sesame Street" has dealt with complex issues in the past - death, HIV/AIDS, divorce and incarcerated parents - it has never had a character with a developmental disability, per CBS.
"They were singing beer commercials, children were".
Show's creators say they will incorporate some common scenarios faced by children with autism to help people understand the mental condition.. "So if a commercial could teach beer, couldn't it teach one- one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten?" But the use of Julia was limited to a digital character.
Sunday's episode of "60 Minutes" offered a closer look at Julia, who has appeared online and in print as part of Sesame Workshop's "Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children" initiative since 2015.
"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. They might not have been anxious when he cried. "I would like her to be just Julia", she says. "They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that's okay".