Sesame Street is welcoming a new resident to the neighbourhood.
Sunday night’s 60 minutes episode announced that Julia, the beloved childhood shows first autistic character, will be joining Elmo and the gang in April.
The episode opens with Elmo and Abby Cadabby introducing Julia to Big Bird, with the new girl reluctant to shake hands with the bird.
“It’s tricky because autism is not one thing, because it’s different for every single person who has autism,” said Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro.
Julia’s debut, played by puppeteer Stacey Gordon – who has a child with autism, comes after the Sesame Street team met with a wide range of people close with close ties to autism. Educators, carers, family-members and organisations were part of the process to determine how best to present the character to a young audience.
60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl spoke to Big Bird and Elmo about helping Julia adjust to life on the street.
“We had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird. It’s just that Julia has autism,” Elmo said. “So sometimes it takes her longer to do things.”
Christine Ferraro is thrilled that Julia is finally making her debut on the screen in April. “I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism. I would like her to just be Julia.”
From what I’ve read about her welcome episode the team will achieve just that. Be sure to tune in for Julia’s debut next month.