Meet Julia – The New Sesame Street Character Who Has Autism

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“Sesame Street” has a new resident. She has orange hair and a complete fondness for her toy rabbit and she also has autism.

Julia has been a part of the “Sesame Street” family in its storybooks. The character was so popular that the decision was made to add her character to the TV series.

This past Sunday, viewers got the opportunity to meet her during a “60 Minutes” segment.

One of the show’s writers, Christine Ferraro, said that  “I think the big discussion right at the start was, ‘How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?

For the close to 50 years “Sesame Street” has been on the air, it has established a reputation for inclusion with all of its characters.

Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of the Children’s Television Workshop which developed “Sesame Street,” said it has never been afraid to deal with real life issues including the death of a beloved character, Mr. Hooper back in 1983.

“Sesame Street had always dealt with the real,” she said. “And it was real, and so we decided not to just replace him and call the man Mr. Hooper and hope they didn’t notice.”

Julia’s first episode will deal with what autism can look like. The disorder can make it hard for sufferers to relate to others and to communicate.

Speaking about his first interaction with Julia in which she ignored him, the character of Big Bird said:

I thought that maybe she didn’t like me,” he said. “Yeah, but you know, we had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird,” the Elmo character noted. ” It’s just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things.” 

Ferraro thinks that along with educating viewers about autism, the new character will settle in comfortably as a part of the neighborhood.

“I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism,” the writer mentioned. “I would like her to be just Julia.”

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