Whether you’re a parent raising a little one that has been diagnosed with autism, trying your best to teach your children about inclusion, or are an advocate for such topics, this is huge news! Sesame Street has introduced Julia, a muppet with autism, to their tv series. She is going to appear in two episodes of the current season, with many more appearances to come in upcoming seasons.
Julia Joins Sesame Street
Julia isn’t brand new to the Sesame Street family, as she has been appearing in books and digital material for the last year. Sesame Street describes their newest character in the following way:
Her name is Julia. She’s a shy and winsome 4-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes. Julia likes to paint and pick flowers. When Julia speaks, she often echoes what she’s just heard her friends Abby and Elmo say. Julia has autism.
Here is a video of her singing with Abby, so you can see her come to life:
There is something so special and beautiful about Julia, just like with many children that have been diagnosed with autism. In the following clip, you can see the sweet and lovable nature that she adds to the show:
Sesame Workshop, a not-for-profit media company and an educational outfit that conducts its own research, has been planning Julia for approximately three years. Julia is one of many initiatives by Sesame Workshop that aim to:
“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, whether it’s economic or social emotional stresses or differences that they’re handling at the time.”
Julia’s main purpose is for childrenwith autism, and their families, someone to identify with. In my personal case, Julia gives me an excellent opportunity to teach my daughter about autism, as well as speak to her about inclusion and befriending children in her future classrooms that may be diagnosed with autism.
Sesame Street & Autism
Sesame Street currently has a website dedicated to autism: Sesame Street and Autism. This website includes resources for parents, activities for kids and much more. Stacy Gordon, the veteran puppeteer who will play the part of Julia, has a son who is on the autism spectrum, and had the following to say about the new character:
“Man, I really wish that kids in my son’s class had grown up with a Sesame Street that had modeling [of] the behavior of inclusion of characters with autism,”
Did you know that, according to the US Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 88 children have autism (and that is just the children that have been formally diagnosed). With data like this, your children are bound to encounter a friend with autism during their childhood. It is important for them to be aware and comfortable around someone that is different than they are. After all, what makes you different is what makes you beautiful.
You can find out more about Julia at NPR, and of course, the Sesame Street websites mentioned throughout my post. I hope you enjoy watching Julia as much as I have and know will in the future. For now, I leave you with “The Amazing Song” performed some of our favourite Sesame Street Muppets: