Sesame Street to welcome new muppet called Julia, who has autism

Carla Harmon
March 21, 2017

Sesame Street has introduced a new character who has autism with the aim of reducing the stigma associated with autistic children.

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. "We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children".

The "Meet Julia" special episode of Sesame Street will have a landmark joint premiere on HBO and PBS Kids on April 10.

The creators of Sesame Street revealed the new character in an interview with 60 minutes, noting that Julia will appear alongside Elmo and Abby. Stacy Gordon, one of the show's puppeteers, was selected to play Julia - which means a lot to her personally, as her son was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Presenting Julia to the gang requires a bit more explanation of her differences and hidden talents for the other Muppets - and their young viewers.

Elmo, Alan Muraoka, new Muppet Julia, Abby Cadabby, and Big Bird celebrate the "amazing" in all children. When she meets Big Bird, she ignores him.

There's a new muppet on the block, and 123 Sesame Street has never seen anyone quite like her. "It's what Sesame does best, you know: Reaching children, looking at these things through their lens and building a greater sort of sense of commonality".

"In the USA, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder", Betancourt said in the interview.

"She needs to take a break", Big Bird's human friend Alan calmly explains.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said the charity was "really pleased" to see a popular TV show introducing a character with autism.

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

Christine went on to explain that the decision to include Julia's jumping game was because "that's a thing that can be typical of some kids with autism". She said having this representation on TV will show other kids with autism they aren't alone. "There's so many people that have given her what she is".

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