Ev­ery­body al­ways wel­come Se­same Street

Mup­pet with autism set to join the cast on pop­u­lar chil­dren’s show

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - ENTERTAINMENT - FRA­ZIER MOORE

NEW YORK— Folks on Se­same Street have a way of mak­ing ev­ery­one feel ac­cepted.

That cer­tainly goes for Ju­lia, a mup­pet young­ster with blaz­ing red hair, bright green eyes — and autism. Rather than be­ing treated like an out­sider, which too of­ten is the plight of kids on the spec­trum, Ju­lia is one of the gang.

Look: On this friendli­est of streets (ac­tu­ally Stu­dio J at New York’s Kaufman As­to­ria Stu­dios, where Se­same Street lives) Ju­lia is about to play a game with Os­car, Abby and Grover. In this scene be­ing taped for air­ing next sea­son, these Mup­pet chums have been chal­lenged to spot ob­jects shaped like squares or cir­cles or tri­an­gles.

“You’re lucky,” says Abby to Grover. “You have Ju­lia on your team, and she is re­ally good at find­ing shapes!”

With that, they skedad­dle, an exit that calls for the six mup­peteers squat­ted out of sight be­low them to scramble ac­cord­ingly. Join­ing her pals, Ju­lia (per­formed by Stacey Gor­don) takes off hunt­ing.

For more than a year, Ju­lia has ex­isted in print and dig­i­tal il­lus­tra­tions as the cen­tre­piece of a multi-faceted ini­tia­tive by Se­same Work­shop called Se­same Street and Autism: See Amaz­ing in All Chil­dren.

She has been the sub­ject of a sto­ry­book re­leased along with videos, ebooks, an app and web­site. The goal is to pro­mote a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what the Autism Speaks ad­vo­cacy group de­scribes as “a range of con­di­tions char­ac­ter­ized by chal­lenges with social skills, repet­i­tive be­hav­iours, speech and non-ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion, as well as by unique strengths and dif­fer­ences.”

But now Ju­lia has been brought to life in fine Mup­pet fet­tle. She makes her TV de­but on Se­same

Street in the Meet Ju­lia episode air­ing April 10 on both PBS and HBO. Ad­di­tional videos fea­tur­ing Ju­lia will be avail­able on­line.


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