Exciting news for parents and children alike: For the first time in a decade, Sesame Street has a new Muppet. Her name is Julia, and she’s a redheaded, four-year-old who likes singing, painting and picking flowers. She also has autism.
As part of an expanding autism initiative, Julia will make her debut on April 10 during an episode called “Meet Julia.”
While she likes a lot of the same things as the other Muppets, she also exhibits some of the myriad symptoms of autism. When Julia meets Big Bird, for example, she doesn’t make eye contact or speak to him. She’s also very sensitive to loud noises.
Stacey Gordon, the puppeteer behind Julia, has a son with autism. She told the Associated Press that Julia is the type of character she wishes her son’s friends had seen when they were younger.
Though there isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition for autism (one in 68 children in the United States is diagnosed on the autism spectrum, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and Julia certainly won’t represent autism as it manifests in every child, this is a major step in the right direction.
Thanks, Sesame Street!