Muppets welcome Julia, a friend with autism, to Sesame Street

The groundbreaking children's programme is introducing a new character - a muppet named Julia who has autism, revealed the show's creators on the CBS News show 60 Minutes on Sunday.

In the episode, Julia demonstrates common characteristics of autism, and when Big Bird is introduced to her, she ignores him.

Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior VP of USA social impact, said families of children with autism have asked the show to address the issue for years now.

Could Julia help children understand autism? We're modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: "finding things that all children share".

The long-running television series, "Sesame Street", will be bringing a new Muppet onboard next month. And when a group of children decide to play tag together, Julia becomes so excited she starts jumping up and down.

An example is in the first episode featuring Julia.

The cool thing about Julia is she has Autism, a condition which means she sees the world a bit differently to other people. Rather than make fun of her or be scared by her unusual reaction, the kids make it part of the game.

"We chose [traits] we thought would be most helpful and most typical", Sesame Street's executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy, Sherrie Westin, said in an interview with the LA Times previous year.

'I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism, ' she added.

Julia was so well-received that the company chose to make her a permanent fixture of the television cast. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that's okay. Big Bird also had to repeat a couple of times what he said to her.

Do you or a loved one have a child with autism?

A yellow Muppet with green eyes and bright copper hair, Julia is four years old and has autism. 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. "There's so many people that have given her what she is".

Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President for Curriculum and Content at Sesame Workshop, said she wanted Julia's character to be as true to reality as possible, while making the concept of autism not-so-taboo.

  • Salvatore Jensen