Since the Sesame Street first began, the entire concept has been about more than just education. One of the big themes of the program has long been acceptance and understanding. Now the series is getting even more accepting as it is set to introduce a very special Muppet in time for its 47th season.
According to The Washington Post, Sesame Street will be introducing the world to Julia, a Muppet who also has autism. This particular youngster will have bright green eyes and bright red hair, as well as a charming smile that radiates joy. No matter what it is that makes Julia different from the other Muppets, it is clear that she is “one of the gang,” as she will be just as included in the activities of Sesame Street as any of the other characters.
While Julia may be making her debut on the television series, that does not mean the character has not been around for a little while. In fact, Julia has actually been a part of both digital and print illustrations for over a year as a central part of the multifaceted initiative known as “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children.” As part of this initiative, Julia has been at the heart of a storybook that was released along with a website, an app, e-books and even videos. The goal of the initiative is to help promote a better understanding of what Autism is and how it makes children different, but also still unique and strong.
After having been a part of the workshop to help get across just what autism is and how it affects children, Julia is going even further as she will now be making her television debut on Sesame Street. As part of a special episode titled Meet Julia, viewers will get the chance to see the character as a full-fledged Muppet on April 10. Beyond her series debut, there will also be videos featuring Julia available to watch online.
For as long as Sesame Street has been on air they have been about acceptance and their goal in introducing Julia is to help end the stigmas associated with being autistic. This is the show’s chance to help promote a better understanding of what autism is and the strengths and differences that a child living with autism may have. Although this is certainly a step towards helping to give children with autism another character to identify with, it also not meant as a way to typify everyone who is autistic. Instead, this is about inclusion and paving the way for an even more inclusive Sesame Street.
By Dorothea James
Photo Courtesy Sesame Street