Arts&Culture

Sesame Street Introduces Julia, the First Muppet with Autism

Sesame Street Introduces Julia, the First Muppet with Autism

Autism, which is typically diagnosed within the first two years of a child's life, affects roughly one in 68 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 68 American children is now diagnosed with autism, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of some 119 percent since 2000. How do we talk about autism?' " Christine Ferraro, one of Sesame Street's writers, told 60 Minutes.

Since its launch in 1969, "Sesame Street" has tackled issues such as divorce, disability, race and death alongside its role in teaching very young children to read, count and learn colors. "It's tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism".

"I think the big discussion right at the start was, 'How do we do this?"

When it's time for Julia to join the cast, Elmo and Abby Cadabby will introduce Julia to Big Bird.

April is autism awareness month and Swanson says the Autism Support Group has been busy planning activities.

How 'Litmus' Became a Test for Court Nominee Gorsuch
Gorsuch responded that, rather than looking to the courts to rein in corporate influence, lawmakers could do the job themselves. He said several cases in which he has ruled for corporations over workers "don't represent the body of my work".

As for other characters, the show conducted extensive research, including consultations with educators and child psychologists, and in this case autism organizations, to understand how best to normalize autism for non-autistic children.

And Julia's puppeteer, Stacey Gordon, has special experience with the disorder: Her son has autism.

"It was a very easy way to show that with a very slight accommodation they can meet (Julia) where she is", Ferraro said.

During Julia's introductory week, she encounters "Sesame Street" regulars Elmo, Abby and Big Bird, and exhibits numerous behaviors that, although not present in everyone on the autism spectrum, are common among children with autism, including excitability, repeating words and phrases, and sensitivity to loud noises. "At the end her daughter said, 'So I'm fantastic too, right?'"

The TV show rolled out the news of Julia's arrival on its website and released a series of YouTube videos featuring her on Sunday.


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