'Sesame Street' to introduce Julia, a muppet with autism, in April

In 1972, the New Yorker described the show as "the most intelligent and important program on television".

Julia has been a part of the "Sesame Street" family via its storybooks and was so popular that the decision was made to add the character to the TV series. The peg for the "Sesame Street" piece is the introduction of the new Muppet character Julia, who has autism.

60 Minutes offered a preview of Julia on Sunday's episode when correspondent Lesley Stahl visited the Sesame Street set while Julia's first episode was being filmed.

Sesame Street worked with Autism organizations including Autism Self Advocacy and Autism Speaks to best personify the traits of a child with autism, according to "60 Minutes".

There's no news yet on how often Julia will appear on the show, but even if she is only on Sesame Street for a short time, her presence is sure to make a difference. As the other characters on the show interact with Julia, they often explain her behaviors in a calm, nearly casual way, saying things like "sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things", according to Slate. When Big Bird is introduced to her, she ignores him.

Julia will demonstrate some of the most common characteristics of autism in her debut episode. Though she may not see things the same way others do, Julia is still someone who deserves to be loved by the best friends she could find.

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

Christine Ferraro has been a writer on Sesame Street for two years.

Find out more about the debut of Julia below. She tells SBS, "I think the stigma behind disabilities such as autism is from lack of knowledge and education". She has autism and, when speaking, she echoes her friend's words. Stacy Gordon is the veteran puppeteer playing Julia, and she also has a son with autism.

"It's tricky, because autism is not one thing. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that's OK", she told CBS News show 60 minutes.

  • Salvatore Jensen