“I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on “Sesame Street” who has autism, I would like her to just be Julia.”
Well-loved educational children’s show Sesame Street will soon introduce a new character.
Julia will join the Sesame Street crew as the show’s first autistic muppet. While the distinction is noteworthy and needed, the show’s writers hope Julia will be a seamless part of the cast.
“I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on “Sesame Street” who has autism, I would like her to just be Julia,” said Christine Ferraro.
Because autism is a spectrum and not one specific set of traits or challenges, Julia’s character required and will require extensive thought and consideration. “It’s tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism. There is an expression that goes, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” explained Ferraro.
From USA Today:
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, announced in 2015 that Julia would join Elmo and the gang in books and an app as part of the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” campaign. Julia, who “does things a little differently,” according to the workshop, is part of the campaign focused on reducing the stigma of autism.
And while the show may make it look like Julia’s character effortlessly came together, it took years of consulting with organizations and experts in the autism community to develop her character, and the campaign, Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact, told AP.
“In the U.S., one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder,” Betancourt said in the interview. “We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children. We’re modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share.”
Destigmatizing autism is a worthy cause and a welcome addition to Sesame Street.
Julia has been featured in various other Sesame Street media forms but will make her TV debut in April. No confirmation on an exact date just yet, though.
Friend Abby and Julia, sing “Sunny Days”, Julia’s favorite song:
Sesame Street‘s home is now HBO, but it still airs on PBS as well.
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