Sesame Street introduces Julia, its first muppet with Autism

Sesame Street is a television show that many kids grew up watching.  Today’s school-aged children, as well as their parents, have fond childhood memories of watching and singing along with the muppets and their human friends. Sesame Street has been on the air an impacting children’s learning for almost 50 years.

East parent, Ken Turner, said, “Sesame Street was on in my house every day when I was little, and then was on every day when my kids were little. It’s one of the things we have in common.”

The original target of the show was low-income children who needed to learn. While these children may not have had access to expensive enrichment activities, most did have access to a television.

When people think of Sesame Street, most automatically think of the characters: Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster. However, there have been many other unique characters created along the way to complement the original characters. These characters address topics more serious than just the ABC’s such as death, skin color and disabilities.

Olivia Pincus (’19) said, “When I was younger I loved watching Sesame Street. I remember how the Count taught me how to count and how nice all the characters were to each other.”

A new Sesame Street character named Julia is going to be released on air in a couple of weeks. Recently on the television show 60 Minutes, viewers were able to get an in-depth look of who Julia is and the story behind her. Julia is a new muppet, and she is a very sweet and fun four-year-old girl who has autism.

The character Julia was created for young viewers understand autism and how to react when they see someone with autism in their daily lives. A lot of research was done to have Julia as a character.

People impacted with autism have a wide range of behaviors and it is hard to capture all of them in a single character. An autism organization spent a lot of time creating Julia’s behaviors. Julia’s character is supposed to represent the message of inclusion and accepting all people who might be different.

Stacey Gordon, a mother who has a son with autism, plays the voice of Julia, and she feels very connected to the role. She has learned through her son’s experiences that not everyone understands autism, and she wants to have the opportunity to explain it to young children.

The 60 Minutes excerpt showed a brief preview of Julia’s appearance on Sesame Street. Elmo is the first character to become friends with her. Elmo then convinces others to also befriend Julia. Elmo’s character does a nice job of showing how a person should act when he meets a person with autism. Hopefully, other children will learn how to interact not only with those with autism but also with children with other disabilities, by watching the show.