A muppet with autism is joining the Sesame Street family, though she’s not scheduled to appear on TV yet.
Unlike most children diagnoses with autism spectrum disorders, Julia is a girl, notes the LA Times. One in 42 boys have autism, compared to 1 in 189 girls — meaning about five times more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism.
“We’re trying to eliminate misconceptions, and a lot of people think that only boys have autism,” said Sherrie Westin, Sesame’s executive vice president, global impact and philanthropy.
Julia stars in a “digital storybook,” We’re Amazing, 1,2,3. She’s is introduced as a long-time friend of Elmo.
In one scene, as she swings with Elmo, Elmo introduces her to his friend Abby. But Julia keeps swinging and doesn’t look in Abby’s direction, prompting Abby to say, “your friend doesn’t like me.”
But that’s not true, Elmo responds. “It’s just hard for her to talk when she’s swinging,” he explains.
Julia flaps her hands when she’s excited, takes a long time to answer questions, is alarmed by loud noises and knows all the words to songs.
Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children includes videos about autism; cards that use Sesame characters to teach basic skills to children with autism (such as “Elmo goes potty”) and overviews on “being a friend,” “brothers and sisters,” “see the amazing,” and “what to say to a parent of a child with autism.”