In the first cast change in over a decade, Julia, a 4-year-old girl with Autism, will soon permanently join the Muppets cast, tackling a growing playground problem for many Australian kids.
Julia first appeared on Sesame Street in a digital storybook story, ‘Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children’.
Julia will debut on Australian screens in mid April.
Designed to educate children about Autism, the little-redhead-girl walking around with a toy bunny was an Instant hit with families, and the decision to include her permanently became final when Sherrie Westin, the Executive Vice Producer showed her daughter, who has autism, the book which prompted her to say “So that means I’m amazing too, right?”.
Julia’s character is aimed at educating children and families about the habits people with Autism, and minimising an all too common playground problem, the bullying of kids who are different.
In South Australia, 62% of children with Autism are bullied. The creators attempt to bring this figure down by helping children to understand autism.
Julia’s character embodies some mannerisms of some children on the Autism spectrum.
In her first episode Big Bird will try to talk to her when introduced by Elmo, and she will ignore him.
At first Big Bird’s feelings are hurt, but he then realises that she just communicates differently. As Elmo mentions ‘Sometimes it just takes her a little longer to do things’.
Julia is also significant for assigned puppeteer, Stacy Gordon, whose son is diagnosed with Autism.
The directors thought that she would be best to bring to life Julia’s different movements.
Sesame Street has over the years recognised diversity in our community. Julia and her friends are designed to show children that they are all amazing and they are all different too.