The long standing children’s show Sesame Street has just announced that they will be introducing a new Muppet that is going to mean a great deal to one out of 68 kids who fall into the autism spectrum.
The Muppet will be named Julia and is going to provide education on autism.
Spokesman Christine Ferraro spoke about the trickiness behind introducing a character like this onto the show. The issue is that not every child that has autism has it in the same way that another child might. It is not a consistent syndrome that you can get a basis for after just meeting a single child, as the next child is going to have it in a whole different way. This makes a general “autism awareness” character a little more difficult.
During the first episode that Julia will be on the show they are going to have Big Bird try and shake her hand, but she is going to be unresponsive to the gesture. This will spark a sort of teaching moment for characters on the show that have never dealt with this type of situation.
Children that have autism will generally have some issues with communicating, will show repetitive habits with a very small variation in likes, and may react differently than a normal person would when put into certain situations. They become apparent within the first two years of life, allowing for an early diagnosis. Some children will display only a one or two symptoms, while others may have many more.
Sesame Street will bring about more awareness and education on the issue through their partnership with Autism Self Advocacy and Autism Speaks. These two organizations will assist in getting Julia’s traits correct so that she can accurately represent symptoms of autism to viewers.