Meet Ju­lia

The Star Malaysia - - World -

A Se­same Work­shop pre­sen­ter show­ing Ju­lia, a new autis­tic mup­pet char­ac­ter which will de­but on the 47th Sea­son of Se­same Street, on April 10. This is Se­same’s ef­fort at try­ing to teach chil­dren about autism, which is on the rise. In the United States alone one in ev­ery 68 chil­dren has autism, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. Read re­port on

WASH­ING­TON: Se­same Street has of­ten ex­per­i­mented with new ways of teach­ing chil­dren about so­cial is­sues as well as their ABCs since its launch nearly 50 years ago. Now it’s tak­ing on a new chal­lenge: autism.

The ground­break­ing pub­lic tele­vi­sion chil­dren’s pro­gram is in­tro­duc­ing a new char­ac­ter, a mup­pet named Ju­lia who has autism, the show’s cre­ators re­vealed on the CBS News show 60 Min­utes broad­cast on Sun­day.

Di­ag­noses of autism have risen steadily in re­cent years to the rate of one in ev­ery 68 US chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

But tack­ling the topic for chil­dren was far from straight­for­ward.

“The big dis­cus­sion right at the start was, ‘How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?’” Se­same Street writer Chris­tine Fer­raro told 60 Min­utes.

“It’s tricky be­cause autism is not one thing; it is dif­fer­ent for ev­ery sin­gle per­son who has autism.”

The episode in­tro­duc­ing Ju­lia in­cludes some com­mon sce­nar­ios.

When Big Bird is in­tro­duced to her, she ig­nores him, and when a group of chil­dren de­cide to play tag to­gether, Ju­lia be­comes so ex­cited she starts jump­ing up and down.

“That’s a thing that can be typ­i­cal of some kids with autism,” Fer­arro said.

But the sit­u­a­tion turns into a new game in which all the chil­dren jump around with Ju­lia.

“So it was a very easy way to show that with a very slight ac­com­mo­da­tion, they can meet her where she is,” Fer­raro said. — AFP

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