Sesame Street has announced the latest and exciting addition to their cast! Julia, a Muppet with autism, is a shy 4-year-old with red hair and curious green eyes. She is set to make her TV debut in April.
In Julia's episode, young viewers will be introduced to her common characteristics with autism. When Big Bird meets her, for example, he doesn't get her attention easily. Stacy Gordon is the veteran puppeteer playing Julia, and she also has a son with autism. "There's so many people that have given her what she is. I'm just hoping to bring her the heart," she said. "Man, I really wish that kids in my son's class had grown up with a Sesame Street that had modeling [of] the behavior of inclusion of characters with autism."
Gordon continued in a 60 Minutes interview,
"[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. 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."
Julia was previously included in Sesame's books and digital offerings, and her character has been in development for about three years. "Basically, in terms of vulnerable families, we're looking at families who may have particular stressors in their lives that are impacting their young children," Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for U.S. social impact at parent company Sesame Workshop, explained. "Whether it's economic or social emotional stresses or differences that they're handling at the time."
Look out for Julia's Sesame Street debut on April 10 on PBS Kids, HBO and YouTube. Keep up with all things pop culture and nostalgia with the latest episode of Fuse's Besterday podcast: