Next month, Sesame Street’s audience will be introduced to Julia, a Muppet with autism. Julia is the first Muppet with a developmental disability.
Sesame Street has been on the air now for almost 50 years. When the popular children’s show began in 1969, it was considered an experiment.
Agreeably, research attested that the nonprofit kids’ television workshop has been successful in educating its viewers. Now called the Sesame Workshop, the show it produced has been enhancing and extending their mission ever since.
Although Julia is new to TV, she has been present on digital properties and printed creations for some time now. The latest Muppet has red hair and green eyes.
On Sunday, Sesame Street shared videos on the HBO site and YouTube, introducing Julia to another mainstream medium. Julia sings Sunny Days with her friend, Abby Cadabby.
Sesame Street senior writer Christine Ferraro told the TV news magazine, 60 Minutes about their newest Muppet. She said the character was complex since “autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism.”
The writer continued, “When [children] encounter [someone autistic] in their real life it’s familiar. And they see that these– these can be their friends too.”
Excerpts from her TV debut portray Julia in common circumstances, where she might not respond to a new friend immediately. However, someone who knows Julia explains the situation to the other characters.
The rest of the Muppets and kids do not avoid Julia just because she’s different. In fact, they welcome her warmly. Stacey Gordon will be the puppeteer for Julia. Gordon has a son on the autism spectrum.
“[This] means that our kids are important enough to be seen in society. Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion … and like her,” Gordon said in an interview.
She further revealed, “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 worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that’s OK.”
Sesame Street will debut the special episode, Meet Julia on Monday, April 10 on HBO and PBS KIDS.