In 2017, Sesame Street debuted Julia, a red-haired, four-year-old Muppet with autism. Designed to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, the character broke new ground as the first Muppet with the condition to appear on the show.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, Sesame Street has now debuted Julia’s family. According to a report by ABC News, Sherri Westin, Sesame Workshop’s president of global impact and philanthropy, said she was “thrilled to expand Julia’s world with her parents, big brother, and her adorable dog.”
“Children with autism often face unique challenges, as do their parents and siblings,” Westin noted. “But every family faces challenges of some sort, which is why we are focusing on what all families have in common. In a family, everyone has different roles, challenges, and strengths, and everyone can learn from one another."
This theme has been reflected in episodes of Sesame Street featuring Julia, in which her fellow Muppets interact positively with the character, coming to understand and embrace her uniqueness, while providing viewers with insight into autism in the process.
In addition to serving as a character that children with autism can identify with, Julia is part of a larger effort by the producers of Sesame Street to help the families of children on the spectrum. On its website, Sesame Workshop features resources, such as videos and interactive routine cards, for both parents and children with autism. The resources focuses specifically on the issue of how to deal with bullying, which is a major issue for children with autism, according to Sesame Workshop.
This is a great opportunity for children with autism to identify with this four-year-old Muppet. Great idea!