'Sesame Street' introduces Julia, a Muppet with autism, to regular cast

Sesame Street is to introduce a new character with autism in a bid to "reduce the stigma" attached to the condition.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Big Bird is anxious that Julia doesn't like him at first.

In her first appearance, Big Bird puts out his wing to introduce himself and shake hands, but Julia ignores him.

It didn't take long for my daughter to realize that she was different. Speaking to the United States news programme 60 Minutes she explained: "Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion...and like her...[is] huge".

The creation of the character involved a lot of research, and more than 14 autism awareness and advocacy groups were consulted, according to NPR. He also has a verbal tic, and can not stand being seperated from his hat for no reason in particular.

However, Julia is the first to be confirmed as having autism.

Julia has previously been the subject of a storybook released along with videos, e-books, an app and website. "How do we talk about autism?'" Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro told 60 Minutes.

"It's important for kids without autism to see what autism can look like", Julia's puppeteer, Stacey Gordon, who has a son with autism, told "60 Minutes". Julia, a Muppet with autism is a little red haired girl, whose "Muppet human" is the mother of a child with autism, with different verbal communication skills than Big Bird and others. In her first episode, Julia will be seen bonding with a few children. While "Sesame Street" has dealt with complex issues in the past - death, HIV/AIDS, divorce and incarcerated parents - it has never had a character with a developmental disability, per CBS. "We all have our little quirks that make us who we are". The muppets in Washington do not like the muppets of PBS, a channel they see as an overly-expensive luxury favoured by the coastal elite.

Covering everything from encouraging an active imagination to racism, they have taught children across the world all about how to be respectful and understanding of others. The child that wont touch fruit because they can't handle the texture or the colour.

"It's tricky, because autism is not one thing".



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