News Worms
News Worms

'Sesame Street' welcomes Julia, new character with autism

Julia made her first appearance in October 2015 in an online Digital Storybook story called Sesame Street and Autism: See the awesome in all children.

Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of the Children's Television Workshop which developed "Sesame Street", said it has also not been afraid to deal with real life issues including the death of a beloved character, Mr. Hooper in 1983.

"It's tricky, because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism", said Ferraro.

To get Julia right, the show met with with organizations, experts, and families within the autism community for several years.

Ask anyone raising a child with autism or on the spectrum personally, and they will likely agree that each case is unique.

As with other children on the Autistic spectrum, Julia will have a heightened sensitivity to noises, which could trigger a meltdown. The Sesame Street team hopes Julia will help children become more comfortable and familiar with the condition. She is the show's first puppet with autism, which highlights the effort to embrace and educate kids on the developmental disorder that affects thousands of children and adults. Her son has a form of autism. "I would like her to be just Julia". "She needs to take a break", explains Big Bird's human friend Alan calmly. The character made her debut on a clip on 60 Minutes, a news magazine show on CBS News.

Julia's debut happens against a backdrop in which Sesame Street's home station, the publicly-funded PBS, is consistently endangered by proposed cutbacks from conservative policy makers.

Designers use 2 sets of arms for Julia, who uses them to express emotions.

Julia has excellent drawing skills and she loves to sing, and sometimes Big Bird has to say things a couple of times to get her attention. When Big Bird, another character in the series is introduced to her, she would ignore him, which makes Big Bird confused and he thinks "that maybe she didn't like me".

The introduction of the new character has been praised by autism support networks in the UK. She is invited to play a game with fellow muppets Oscar, Abby and Grover, where they must point out different shapes.

But the situation turns into a new game in which all the children jump around with Julia.

Julia will be puppeteered by Stacey Gordon, who is more equipped than most to depict the character's mannerisms and behaviour, given that her own child is living with autism.


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