The classic children’s television show Sesame Street will be introducing a new character on the air for the first time in a decade.
Her name is Julia – she’s a shy 4-year-old who likes to paint, pick flowers, and play with her friends. Julia also has autism.
When presenting Julia on the show, other Muppets will help explain her differences and hidden talents for young viewers. It can sometimes be hard to get Julia’s attention, and she sees things that others don’t.
"There's so many people that have given her what she is. I'm just hoping to bring her the heart," says Stacy Gordon, the veteran puppeteer selected to play the part.
Gordon, who previously did therapeutic work for people with autism and whose son is on the autism spectrum, believes the show and Julia’s character will be a great resource for students with autism. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control states that one in 68 American children have autism.
Parents of children with autism have told officials at Sesame Street how important the show is for their kids. Julia’s character aims to give children with autism and their families a character to identify with in mainstream media.
"It's not like there is a typical example of an autistic child, but we do believe that [with] Julia, we worked so carefully to make sure that she had certain characteristics that would allow children to identify with her," said Sherrie Westin, an executive vice president at Sesame Workshop.
— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) March 20, 2017
Julia makes her television debut April 10 on Sesame Street and is set to appear in two episodes in the current season. Learn more from NPR about Julia’s introduction.