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Sesame Street introduces autistic character named Julia

21 March 2017, 02:03 | Winston Chapman

Lesley Stahl watches a taping of “Sesame Street” CBS News

Lesley Stahl watches a taping of “Sesame Street”               CBS News

Sesame Street, one of the most popular and influential children's programmes of the last 50 years, will introduce Julia, a character with autism, onto the show next month.

Educational kids' TV institution Sesame Street - known for colourful inhabitants like Big Bird, the Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch - is introducing a new puppet with autism.

"For years, families of children with autism have asked us to address the issue", Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of USA social impact at the nonprofit Sesame Workshop, said in a statement.

As for other characters, the show conducted extensive research, including consultations with educators and child psychologists, and in this case autism organizations, to understand how best to normalize autism for non-autistic children. "Just as we look at all children as being unique, we should do the same thing when we're looking at children with autism". Come April, kiddie viewers will be seeing more of Julia when she makes her transition to the live-action fold of the long-running children's show, as revealed in a segment Sunday on "60 Minutes".

It's always been a place where everyone is welcome, and now Sesame Street are planning to bring on introducing a muppet who has autism. Julia becomes excited and starts jumping when she sees a group of children playing together.

An example is in the first episode featuring Julia.

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Sesame Street is diversifying its cast of friendly Muppets with a new character - Julia who is autistic.

The cool thing about Julia is she has Autism, a condition which means she sees the world a bit differently to other people.

"We had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird", Elmo told Stahl.

Famously, the neighborhood store's friendly grocer, Mister Hooper, passed away on December 7th, 1982, leading the show to approach the subject of death and its affects on friendship and families in 1983. "If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism", Kelsey Rohr said on YouTube. She's a shy and winsome 4-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes.

"Julia is an fantastic little character", said Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice preside of Sesame Workshop, according to APTN. She said having this representation on TV will show other kids with autism they aren't alone. Christine Ferraro, a writer on the show, added on 60 Minutes that "it's tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism".

"She's one of the kids, she's one of the gang", said Rose Jochum, director of internal initiatives at the Autism Society of America, which helped Sesame Street develop the new muppet, on NPR. "There's so many people that have given her what she is".



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