Meet Julia, the first new Muppet to join the Sesame Street neighborhood in a decade.
Julia is a little different from the other puppets on the show. She sometimes takes a while to answer questions and tends to repeat what her friends say because she has autism.
In a “Sesame Street” clip posted to YouTube on Sunday, Julia and her friend Abby Cadabby invent a game called “boing boing tag.” While they are playing, Julia often mimics Abby’s words.
Some of the other characters are initially confused by Julia’s behavior, but they soon come to understand and embrace her differences.
‘She ignores Big Bird’
In her debut episode, Julia will demonstrate some common characteristics. When Big Bird is introduced to her, she ignores him.
Confused, Big Bird thinks “that maybe she didn’t like me”. But the other muppets tell him: “She does things just a little differently.”
The role of Julia has a personal dimension for Stacy Gordon, the veteran puppeteer selected to play the part.
Her son is on the autism spectrum, too. She believes the show will be a great resource — for students with the disorder and for their playmates.
“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 said.
The character Julia makes her television debut April 10 on Sesame Street on various platforms where the show’s programs can be found, including PBS Kids, HBO and YouTube.
The frequency of autism diagnoses has spiked in recent years. The CDC estimates that one in 68 children have been identified as being on the autism spectrum, making it likely that many children who watch “Sesame Street” will know someone affected by the disorder.
Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.