'Sesame Street' to tackle autism with new muppet

Posted March 20, 2017

Who's new kid on the block?

Having a character that exhibits common traits of autism on the longest running and best-loved children's television is an enormous step.

The show's writers worked with autism advocacy organisations to make sure the character adequately represented the condition.

"That's a thing that can be typical of some kids with autism", Ferarro said. While "Sesame Street" has dealt with complex issues in the past - death, HIV/AIDS, divorce and incarcerated parents - it has never had a character with a developmental disability, per CBS.

"Why am I the only one with autism?" she asked me.

Sesame Street writers have chose to have the other characters immediately include Julia into their "gang", rather than leave her out as sadly some autistic children are.

Adding Julia "means that our kids are important enough to be seen in society", Gordon tells Stahl.

Julia's debut episode will deal with what autism can look like.

Interestingly, after Julia's first appearance in 2015, a mother of a boy with autism wrote a piece for the New York Times, explaining that her son always thought that Fozzie Bear had autism.

The episode ends with the four Muppets learning to get along and eventually playing tag.

The show has a long tradition of showing characters with different social personalities, to teach children about tolerance and diversity.

At Sesame Workshop, executive vice president Sherrie Westin says careful consideration went into the creation of this new character. It's because of the talents and dedication of those behind the scenes that we have characters like Elmo and Abby, who so many know and love. 'I would like her to be just Julia'.

The puppeteer behind Julia is actually the mom of an autistic child herself. "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", Gordon told Lesley Stahl. They might not have been anxious when he cried.

The show's producers told CBS News they struggled over how to talk about autism to a young audience, because it's different for every person.