Sesame Street introduces first ever autistic character

Louise McCreesh

From Digital Spy

After nearly 50 years on screens, Sesame Street has introduced its first character with autism.

Julia, who has featured previously in digital and print storybooks, will make her TV debut in April on US channels HBO and PBS.

With orange hair and a toy rabbit who goes with her everywhere, she will be introduced as a human child who "does things just a little differently", after displaying key characteristics commonly associated with the condition.

Julia's puppeteer Stacey Gordon has an autistic son herself, with writers billing Julia's involvement as a "message of inclusion" for other kids in a similar situation.

"The big discussion right at the start was, 'How do we talk about autism?'" Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro told 60 Minutes.

"It's tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism."

In the clip, Julia is sitting with Elmo when she is introduced to Big Bird, but ignores him.

Big Bird fears Julia simply "doesn't like him" but he is reassured that "she does things just a little differently".

Photo credit: PBS

Julia's autism is also tackled later in the episode, when a group of children are playing tag, prompting her to jump up and down with excitement.

However, instead of rejecting Julia, the children create a new game in which they all jump around together.

Her addition to the cast follows the departure of three of the series' oldest cast members last year.

Want up-to-the-minute entertainment news and features? Just hit 'Like' on our Digital Spy Facebook page and 'Follow' on our @digitalspy Twitter account and you're all set.

You Might Also Like

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes