“It’s important for kids without autism to see what autism can
Posted on March 20, 2017, 18:54 GMT
The newest Muppet friend
on Sesame Street is Julia, a 4-year-old who likes to
sing and also has autism.
The show announced in
2015 that Julia would be joining the crew in an online
initiative. Now Julia is making her debut on the small screen
Christine Ferraro, a writer on Sesame Street, has been
working on the show for 25 years.
She told 60 Minutes‘ Lesley Stahl that the show
decided to introduce an autistic character because of the
increase in diagnoses of the condition of the past few
She and the rest of the staff wanted to teach kids more about
their friends with autism, so they can learn how to interact
with them better.
“So that when they encounter them in their real life it’s
familiar. And they see that these — these can be their
friends too,” she told Stahl.
Julia is really nice and
loves to sing, but she may not react the way other kids
expect. For example, when the rest of the Muppets introduce
themselves, Julia doesn’t respond.
Some other things that make Julia unique are that she is
sensitive to loud noises, and she jumps up and down when she
In the first episode featuring Julia, she does just that —
hops up and down. The rest of the Muppets join her, and make
a game out of it.
“So it was a very easy way to show that with a very slight
accommodation they can meet her where she is,” Ferraro told
Julia is played by
puppeteer Stacey Gordon, herself a mother of a son with
autism. Gordon told Stahl she traveled to New York from her
home in Arizona to audition for the part.
She said the fact that an autistic character is being
included on the show is “huge.”
“It means that our kids are important enough to be seen in
society,” she told 60 Minutes. “Having Julia on the
show and seeing all of the characters treat her with
She said that she hopes that kids will better understand
autistic children like her son after seeing Julia on the
“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,”
she said. “They might not have been worried when he cried.
They would have known that he plays in a different way and
that that’s okay.”
She added: “It’s important for kids without autism to see
what autism can look like.”
Ferraro said she hopes
Julia becomes a major character on Sesame Street in
View this video on YouTube
“I would love her to be,” she said. “I would love her to be
not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism.
I would like her to be just Julia.”
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