Meet Julia - Sesame Street's newest Muppet has autism.
There's a new girl in town, meet Julia, Sesame Street's newest character. Julia is a muppet character with bright orange hair, big green eyes, and a great personality. The only thing different about her is that she has autism. Julia is the first character on Sesame Street to be portrayed on the Autistic Spectrum and was an idea that came to Sesame Street a while back that the writers have been working on. Julia's big debut will be on April 10, 2017, and it will be on HBO and PBS KIDS channels. Sesame Street has been around for almost 50 years now, so many of us have grown up watching it, knowing all of the characters and learning a thing or two from them along the way. Kids have learned about numbers, letters, words, friendship, cooperation and even more intense subjects like death. A writer for Sesame Street, Christine Ferraro, who has been with the show for 25 years, wanted there to be a character that other kids with autism could relate with since there really aren't many if any characters in kids television with autism. It's also good for kids without autism to realize that it's okay to be different and that to respect people even if they're different from you. Most kids will meet autistic kids at some point in their lifetimes, and many will also become friends with an autistic child. So it's incredible to have a character that honors autism and shines a positive light on it, helping people understand autistic people better.
Christine said that it was difficult to portray autism in just one way because there are so many different ways that a person with autism will be. It's truly just as unique as the person themselves. There are some common characteristics that the team of writers was able to link together as they worked with different educators and psychologists who have a deep understanding of autism. Julia isn't going to be just like any one autistic child, but rather a beautiful combination of many of the characteristics. The show hopes that Julia will help to normalize autism to a certain degree so that it's not seen as something strange or abnormal. Julia is a part of the Sesame Street community just like other people with autism can become a part of a community and have a normal group of friends. The puppeteer that was chosen to play Julia is Stacey Gordon, a woman who came all the way from Pheonix, Arizona to try out for the part of Julia. It was very important to Stacey to get the part because her own son has autism. She feels so honored to be able to represent autistic kids like her son through Julia. Stacey thinks that it would have immensely helped her son if there were are a character on Sesame Street that he could have identified with better. The kids around him also would have benefitted from learning more about it too.
It hasn't been decided if Julia will become a main character or a regular character on the show, but Christine and others working on the set sure hope so. It would be so amazing to have a permanent character with autism in the series, and it would help so many people to embrace those with autism, creating a safer world for autistic people. You can find clips of Julia, but you'll have to wait until the special episode airs on April 10th called "Meet Julia" to meet her and learn more about her. Enjoy reading the interviews on CBS and share the exciting news with your friends.***
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