Sesame Street Will Introduce Julia, an Autistic Muppet

Sesame Street, the popular pre-school educational TV show that launched in the U.S. in 1969, has recently announced that for the first time ever it will have an autistic character: Julia is an autistic toy rabbit with orange hair who promises to keep the kids glued to the TV screens.

Kami became Sesame Street's first HIV-positive muppet in the early 2000s, taking on a starring role in the show's offshoots in South Africa and Nigeria, where the show aimed to break a stigma around HIV and AIDS.

The character of Big Bird talked to Stahl about his first interaction with Julia in which she ignored him.

As for other characters, the show conducted extensive research, including consultations with educators and child psychologists - and in this case, autism organisations, to comprehend how best to normalise autism for non-autistic children.

Julia has been featured in various other Sesame Street media forms but will make her TV debut in April. As with many children who are on the autism spectrum, Julia is particularly sensitive to noise.

"Basically, in terms of vulnerable families, we're looking at families who may have particular stressors in their lives that are impacting their young children", Betancourt says, "whether it's economic or social emotional stresses or differences that they're handling at the time".

And this won't be Julia's complete debut with Sesame Street.

Julia will join the Sesame Street crew as the show's first autistic muppet.

"And she has autism", the website adds.

Autism awareness and advocacy groups are cheering Julia's addition.

Julia, a four-year-old, red haired, bright-eyed muppet is "smiley, curious and loves to play" and will feature on the show next month, according to its website. "Her eyes had to be a certain way because she has to have an intense look, but she has to look friendly", Krewson told Stahl.

Julia's puppeteer, Stacey Gordon, has a son with autism.

She hopes Julia will help other kids to understand that people with autism sometimes act and play differently.

"The "Meet Julia" episode is something that I wish my son's friends had been able to see when they were small", Ms. Gordon told the Associated Press. I think it's wonderful to give children the opportunity to learn about autism on Sesame Street.

  • Salvatore Jensen