Julia, a Muppet with autism, is making her was to “Sesame Street” in April.
Julia made her debut in a digital storybook called “Sesame Street and Autism: See the Amazing in All Children,” but according to a segment on 60 Minutes, she will be coming to the live-action part of the show in April, making her debut as her friends Elmo and Abby Cadabby introduce her to Big Bird.
When Julia first meets Big Bird, in the segment, she is reluctant to shake Big Bird’s hand, and her friends must explain to Big Bird that Julia does like him but she has autism and sometimes takes longer to do things.
60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl spoke to Elmo and Big Bird about how the Muppets are able to make accommodations for Julia.
“We had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird,” Elmo said. “It’s just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things.”
Eventually, in the episode, all four friends learn to play together.
“It was a very easy way to show that with a very slight accommodation they can meet her where she is,” said longtime Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro.
Julia’s puppeteer, Stacey Gordon, has a son with autism and hopes that this representation can help children normalize autism.
“Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors 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. “They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.”