Meet Ju­lia, a Mup­pet with autism

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Amy B. Wang

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.

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