Sesame Street Embraces Autism With New Character

On Sesame Street, "A" is for Autism.

The popular children's show is introducing a new character who is on the spectrum. Her name is Julia and she's a four year old girl who likes to play games and often repeats what other Muppets say.  The move is drawing widespread praise from parents of autistic kids.

"This is going to help families understand that autism is a spectrum.  It does vary between one child and another," Lisa Owens, who is with the Autism Society of Texas in San Antonio, tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.

Julia has already appeared in some other Sesame Street media, like books and online games, but this is the first time in one decade that the television show has introduced a new character.  

Sesame Workshop has worked for more than five years and consulted with over 250 organizations and experts within the autism community to address an increasingly prevalent condition.

 One in 68 American children is diagnosed with autism.

“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, said in a statement. 

“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.”

Owens says the move also helps kids on the autism spectrum by normalizing the disorder.

"Yeah, you may have some autism, but it’s okay.  Everybody has something."

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