Her name is Julia, and she’ll help children to learn about neurodiversity
Sesame Street is about to get much more inclusive, as the classic children’s programme will introduce it’s first ever autistic character this April.
Her name is Julia, and she first appeared as a playmate for Elmo back in 2015, but she’ll soon become a regular muppet on the PBS Kids show.
This comes as an effort to incorporate neurodiversity into children’s programming, and Sesame Street will explain Julia’s autism in a sensitive yet casual way when she meets the other characters. For example, Julia will be reluctant to shake Big Bird’s hand, and Elmo will explain to his friend that Julia is on the autism spectrum and, thus, “sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things.”
Sesame Street has been on the telly for over 50 years, so it’s great to see diversity being added after all this time. The new muppet will be operated by a woman, Stacey Gordon, who has a son with autism, so she has a strong connection to the role. She says having an autistic character on TV is very important to families like hers, “It means that our kids are important enough to be seen in society. Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion is huge.”
Stacey Gordon added to CBS News, “Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s okay.”
See Julia appear in Sesame Street from April 10.
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