A Muppet with Autism to be welcomed on Sesame Street
Published: 21 March 2017 Image credit: AP
Folks on Sesame Street certainly have a way of making everyone feel special.
And that mantra rings true 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 on American’s long-running program.
For more than a year, Julia has existed in print and digital illustrations as the centrepiece of a multifaceted initiative by Sesame Workshop called, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children.
But now Julia has been brought to life.
She is scheduled to make her TV debut on Sesame Street in the "Meet Julia" episode airing on April 10, with the goal to promote a better understanding of autism.
Developing Julia has required years of consultation with organisations, experts and families within the autism community.
"In the US, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder," Sesame Workshop’s Jeanette Betancourt said.
"We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children.
“We're modelling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective. Finding things that all children share."
But while Julia represents the full range of children on the spectrum, she isn't meant to illustrate each one of them.
"Just as we look at all children as being unique, we should do the same thing when we're looking at children with autism," Ms Betancourt says.
Since its launch in 1969, Sesame Street has tackled issues such as divorce, disability, race and death alongside its role in teaching very young children to read, count and learn colours.