Sesame Street has introduced a new family to the long-running children’s broadcast.
Making her television debut back in 2017, viewers already know Julia – a fun-loving 4-year-old and the first Muppet with autism.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, the company behind the show, Sesame Workshop, is now introducing her family to viewers young and old.
“We’re thrilled to expand Julia’s world with her parents, big brother, and her adorable dog, Rose”
In a statement, Sherrie Westin, the president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop announced the new characters as well as additional information and resources that will be made available.
“Children with autism often face unique challenges, as do their parents and siblings. But every family faces challenges of some sort, which is why we are focusing on what all families have in common. In a family, everyone has different roles, challenges, and strengths, and everyone can learn from one another.”
Sesame Street has long recognized the importance as well as the difficulties behind such a complex character.
In a 60 Minutes interview back in 2017, the show’s senior writer Christine Ferraro acknowledged that “autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism.”
The show has always been about inclusion, but for many kids who may be unfamiliar with autism, it can sometimes be difficult to understand.
Stacey Gordon is the mother of a son with autism and the puppeteer for Julia.
In the same interview, Gordon told 60 Minutes her hope was that seeing other characters treat Julia with understanding and compassion may help viewers understand that while we are all different, we are all still very much the same.
“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.”
While the world has a long way to go when it comes to understanding all the complexities of autism, teaching inclusion and understanding is one step we know makes a difference.