Now, the children's television show will be adding a new character with autism on its show, the first muppet with a developmental disability. "The response from the autism community to "See Amazing in All Children" has been extraordinary, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, as part of our mission of helping all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder".
Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro told 60 Minutes that she hopes Julia becomes less of a novelty on the show. They wanted to help normalize autism using a single character, but autism presents differently in each person with the disorder.
Ask anyone raising a child with autism or on the spectrum personally, and they will likely agree that each case is unique. Nor did it have time for the latest attempt to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which, even if the cut were enacted, might not have much impact on Sesame Workshop but would hurt the public-TV stations that air "Sesame Street". "Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion and like her ..." Her son has a form of autism. Her name is Julia, and she has wide green eyes and fiery orange hair.
"60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl spoke to Big Bird and Elmo (hey, who better to talk to than the Muppets themselves?) about helping adjust to how Julia reacts to situations.
"It's important for kids without autism to see what autism can look like", she told60 Minutes.
Julia's debut happens against a backdrop in which Sesame Street's home station, the publicly-funded PBS, is consistently endangered by proposed cutbacks from conservative policy makers.
We love the idea of Julia, and can't wait to see her on the big screen!
"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", Gordon told NPR. Julia is a little different from the other characters on the show.
The segment also highlights that the puppeteer hired to animate Julia, Stacey Gordon, is herself the mother of a young child with autism.
In Julia's first episode, Big Bird holds out his wing out to shake hands with her but she does not respond. "And [they] would have known that he plays in a different way, and that that's okay".
She is also shown covering her ears and reacting badly to a loud noise, which is also explained gently and calmly.