Makers of Sesame Street have revealed that the newest Muppet, Julia, will debut on the show in April.
Julia, who is 4 years old likes to sing and also has autism. Christine Ferraro, a writer on Sesame Street, has been working on the show for 25 years.
Christine Ferraro, a writer on Sesame Street who has been working on the show for 25 years told 60 Minutes that the show decided to introduce an autistic character because of the increase in diagnosis’ of the condition of the past few decades.
According to her, the idea is to teach children about their friends with autism so that they are able to relate better with them.
“So that when they encounter them in their real life it’s familiar. And they see that these — these can be their friends too,” she said.
What makes Julia unique in Sesame Street?
Julia is a nice persona and loves to sing. She is not like her peers.
Julia is sensitive to loud noises, and she jumps up and down when she is excited.
What to expect of Julia
In the first episode that features Julia, she hops up and down. The rest of the muppets join her, and make a game out of it.
“So it was a very easy way to show that with a very slight accommodation they can meet her where she is,” Ferraro said.
In another clip, another muppet turns Julia’s tendency to flap her arms into a way to pretend to be butterflies.
Julia is played by puppeteer Stacey Gordon, herself a mother of a son with autism. Gordon told Stahl she traveled to New York from her home in Arizona to audition for the part.
She said the fact that an autistic character is being included on the show is “huge.”
“It means that our kids are important enough to be seen in society,” she told 60 Minutes. “Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion.”
She said that she hopes that kids will better understand autistic children, like her son, after seeing Julia on the show.
“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,” she said.
“They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s okay.”
“It’s important for kids without autism to see what autism can look like.”
Ferraro said she hopes Julia becomes a major character on Sesame Street in the future.