Meet Julia, a Muppet with autism
In a coming episode of “Sesame Street,” a new character will make her television debut. Her name is Julia — and like so many other Muppets, she’s “smiley, curious and loves to play.”
Julia also has autism, which means she does some things a little differently. For instance, upon her introduction to Big Bird, she doesn’t make eye contact or speak, but rather continues coloring.
“I thought that maybe she didn’t like me,” Big Bird told “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, in a recent special about Sesame Street’s newest resident.
Elmo was quick to chime in: “Yeah, but you know, we had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird,” he added. “It’s just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things.”
It is through this spirit of acceptance and friendship that “Sesame Street,” the much-heralded children’s show, hopes to promote understanding about autism to a new generation. One in 68 children in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though there is not a one-size-fits-all definition of autism, the CDC notes that the developmental disability can cause social, communication and behavioral challenges.