'Sesame Street' welcomes Julia, a Muppet with autism

There have been characters in TV shows like "L.A. Law" and "The Arc of Florida" says it's proud to see an iconic children's show feature a character on the autism spectrum.

"Julia is a little girl who is showing that she has some challenges initiating and making friends, which is very typical of kids with autism", said Rachel Gardner, psychologist and director of the Autism Center of Excellence at Fraser. Aside from her introduction, a dedicated website also provides materials on how people can better deal with those who have autism. "I would love her to be not 'Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism, '" she said.

On Monday, Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation that backs "Sesame Street", announced that it was expanding its autism offerings, to include new videos, e-books and books, released in both English and Spanish. Gordon, however, said the parallels between her son and Julia are not exactly the same.

The show's creators say they hope Julia will help children better understand other kids who have autism.

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"We heard a call to use our expertise and characters to build a bridge between the autism and neurotypical communities", Betancourt said. Julia will be first seen on Sesame Street on an episode to be aired in the U.S. on April 10.

Badesch said that it was obvious the committee "really wanted to get it right - and they got it right", with Julia's character. "They would have known that he plays in a different way, and that that's OK", Stacey told CBS News show 60 Minutes. "There's a saying that if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism".

"Had my son's friends been exposed to his behaviours through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened", she told 60 Minutes.

"Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun", she replied.

  • Marjorie Miles