By: Jon Corrigan
Sesame Street has unveiled a new character: Julia, the first Muppet with autism.
CBS’ 60 Minutes was on set when Julia was introduced to Big Bird, who became confused when Julia didn’t acknowledge him.
Stacy Gordon, whose son is on the autism spectrum, was cast as Julia’s puppeteer, and explained the impact of her character.
“It means that our kids are important enough to be seen in society. Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion—and like her—it’s huge,” she explained. “It’s important for kids without autism to see what autism can look like. Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.”
Julia will appear in two episodes of Sesame Street’s current season – airing on HBO and PBS – and her screen time will increase in future seasons.