Many of our friends and supporters send us links about Julia, Sesame Street’s newest Muppet. Of course we were very excited about the character and happy with her introduction. What makes the addition of Julia especially significant to us, is the way the Sesame Street creators chose to portray her as a child with autism.
The character took years to create and a lot of careful consideration went into her every detail For instance, though more boys are diagnosed with autism, (1 in 42, compared to 1 in 189 for girls) the show’s creators made a conscious decision to create a girl character so people wouldn’t think only boys are on the spectrum.
What’s really important about the character is how she’s described – a child who does things differently. Children with autism are five times more likely to be bullied in school, so teaching empathy is an important foundation.
“Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences. Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group” said PBS senior vice president of U.S. social impact, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt.
It’s significant to Love, Andrew to see a nationally recognized and beloved children’s show portray a child with autism in a positive light. For more information and resources for parents and children, visit http://autism.sesamestreet.org/.