Tuesday, 28 March, 2017

'Sesame Street' Introduces Julia, the First Muppet With Autism

Julia Sesame Street's new muppet.
   
 

  Enlarge  Caption Julia Sesame Street's new muppet. Enlarge Caption
Elaine Woods | 21 March, 2017, 00:35

A 2012 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in 68 American children has autism. We're modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: "finding things that all children share".

Christine Ferraro, a "Sesame Street" writer for more than two decades, told "60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl that Julia is meant to expose the show's young viewers to children with autistic traits.

"There is an expression that goes, "If you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism". However, the friendships between the muppets also teach children how to treat each other.

"Commenting on the introduction of the new character, Mandy Williams, CEO of Child Autism UK, told The Huffington Post UK: "'Sesame Street' is an iconic mainstream programme, so this has to be a very positive move.

In creating the character, Ferraro and the show's other writers consulted with autism advocacy organizations in order to ensure they were properly and respectfully portraying the condition.

"The "Meet Julia" episode is something that I wish my son's friends had been able to see when they were small", Gordon said, according to The Associated Press. But the inclusion of Julia on the live-action show is important-so much so that she's making headlines around the world.

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Takalani Sesame, the South African version of Sesame Street, features Kami, a HIV-positive Muppet.

And now they have taken it one step further, introducing their first autistic character, Julia. The show runners noted that Julia will meet Big Bird and be hesitant to shake the character's hand.

"It's not like there is a typical example of an autistic child, but we do believe that [with] Julia, we worked so carefully to make sure that she had certain characteristics that would allow children to identify with her", Westin said on 60 Minutes.

"Confused, Big Bird thinks, "Maybe she didn't like me".

Beloved children's TV show Sesame Street has always led the way in teaching children to be good, kind human beings.

The Muppet, named Julia, isn't new to the block. They introduced divorce when Abby talked about her parents living in different houses. "They would have known that he plays in a different way and that's OK". Stacy Gordon is the veteran puppeteer playing Julia, and she also has a son with autism.

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