Sesame Street Adds Julia: A Muppet with Autism
Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby bring so much joy to “Sesame Street,” a show many of us grew up watching and a show that continues to be a hit with children today. For the first time in a decade, “Sesame Street” is introducing a new Muppet to the show named Julia.
Julia was first introduced as part of “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” in 2015. This online initiative was created to help raise awareness for autism in schools and help reduce public stigmas associated with autism. The website includes songs, videos, games and reading materials for parents and children.
The website states “In the U.S., 1 in 68 children is diagnosed on the autism spectrum (ASD). In fact, almost every school and university in the country has students with autism. While the diagnosis is common, public understanding of autism is not.”
Adding the new Muppet to the TV series creates an environment for more conversation and awareness. Julia sometimes doesn’t react the way other kids expect, for example when the Muppets introduce themselves, she doesn’t respond. She is shy and also sensitive to loud noises. The show brilliantly displays examples of how students with autism and their playmates interact.
Puppeteer Stacey Gordon plays Julia’s character and she is the mother of a son with autism. CBS 60 Minutes reports she traveled from Phoenix, Arizona to audition for the role.
She told CBS 60 Minutes, “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 worries when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that’s OK,” Gordon says.