For the first time in a decade, Sesame Street is adding a new muppet to the block: Julia, a young muppet on the autism spectrum.
“For years, families of children with autism have asked us to address the issue. We heard a call to use our expertise and characters to build a bridge between the autism and neurotypical communities,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, SVP of U.S. Social Impact, Sesame Workshop said in a press release. “So many partners, advisors, and organizations have contributed to the success of this initiative, and we are thrilled to have the benefit of this collaboration as we launch this latest chapter.”
In 2015, Sesame Workshop launched Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, an online initiative which introduced Julia as a digital character in a storybook called “We’re Amazing, 1,2,3.” Sesame Workshop has spent five years consulting with 250 organizations and experts within the autism community – including Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America.
Julia will be played by Stacey Gordon, a puppeteer whose son is on the autism spectrum. “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 told NPR.
Julia will make her debut April 10 on PBS Kids and HBO.