Sesame Street Will Introduce Its First Autistic Character

Posted March 21, 2017

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.

"In the USA, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder", Jeanette Betancourt, vice president of US social impact at Sesame Workshop, told the Associated Press. "We're modelling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share".

A new Muppet will soon join the people in Sesame Street's neighborhood. Julia and Stacey Gordon, the puppeteer who plays the orange-haired character, were introduced to viewers during a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday, March 19. After Julia starts excitedly jumping up and down on the spot, Abby then adapts this into their game. The other characters will accept Julia, even when she does things differently, and this could directly impact the way children with autism are treated in their own lives. Three years in the making, Julia's presence on the series is profound and enlightening as it continues Sesame Workshop's learning initiatives for children.

In the first episode, "Meet Julia" airing on April 10, Julia is introduced to Big Bird. Sesame Street aims to challenge the misconceptions by presenting a character who may be autistic, but is far from different or someone to be ignored. Of course, not every child with autism exhibits the same behaviors, or has the same degree of difficulty socially. She said having this representation on TV will show other kids with autism they aren't alone. She wishes that Julia's character would make people more aware and also be a source of information for the future generations. Now in its 47th season, Big Bird and the gang are welcoming a new Muppet character, Julia.

In a recent episode of For Peete's Sake, it was revealed that RJ, who works closely with an autism coach, recently obtained his driver's license.

Jeanette Betancourt said: 'Just as we look at all children as being unique, we should do the same thing when we're looking at children with autism'.