New Kid On the Block: Sesame Street’s First Character with Autism

(Photo: Zach Hyman/Sesame Workshop)

               Sesame Street is bringing a new muppet on board. This April the show will debut Julia, their first ever character with Autism, a chronic disorder that impacts roughly 1 in 68 children in the United States.

               The voice of Julia, Stacey Gordon is ready for the change. She notes, “As the parent of a child with Autism, I wish that [Julia] had come out years before, when my own child was at the Sesame Street age.”

               The newest addition to the show, however, is not brand new to the Sesame Street franchise. Julia was featured in a digital storybook called “Sesame Street and Autism: See the Amazing in All Children” in 2015 as a friend of Elmo and Abby.

               Writers of the show have since contemplated making Julia an official character. One writer recognizes the complexity of Julia by saying, “It’s tricky because Autism is not one thing . . . it is different for every single person who has it.” To navigate the creation of Julia, creators of the show consulted with Autism organizations and experts within the field.

               The show’s aim is to present a character who realistically portrays a child with Autism while at the same time reducing the stigma associated with the condition. Additionally, Sesame Street purposefully created Julia as a girl because Autism is thought to be underdiagnosed in women.

               Optimistic about their approach to normalizing Autism, Sesame Street will be introducing Julia to their 47th season on April 10.

Alanna Shingler Staff Reporter