By Amanda Hayes, Managing Editor
For 46 years, Sesame Street has brought smiles and guidance to children with the help of Elmo, Big Bird, and many other characters. Important lessons such as sharing, respect, and love have been ingrained in many children’s brains as they grew up watching this fun-loving show. However, this year with the introduction of the first autistic character, Julia, Sesame Street is working to promote even further acceptance, as it premieres the first episode with this new character on April 10.
Sesame Street even launched a website for the development of the new character. The website includes videos for kids and parents, storybooks, and information and resources for further knowledge about autism. Julia first premiered in a 2015 online storybook within this site.
To craft Julia’s character did present challenges the directors of Sesame Street had never encountered before. According to CBS, because Julia flaps with her hands when she gets upset – which is a very common behavior in those on the spectrum – her Muppet had two separate sets of arms for those that can and cannot flap. Creating this character came with the question of what to talk about. According to show writer Christine Ferraro “because, with autism, there’s such a range and so many different ways that autism affects people, we had to pick one lane and go in it.”
Julia will be in two episodes this current season, and more in the upcoming season. This will air on PBS, YouTube, and HBO. The premiere introduction of Julia on April 10, in perfect timing for National Autism Awareness Month and right after World Autism Day, which is on April 2, 2017. Many are touched by someone with autism every day, and the inclusion of this character is a great step for acceptance of all children. For more information about Julia, or to even learn more about autism, check out Sesame Street’s interactive website: autism.sesamestreet.com
Let us know what you think! Are you excited for these new initiatives, have you heard any other television shows incorporating this into their own scripts? Comment below!