The first Sesame Street Muppet with autism, Julia, has made her debut on TV.
Sesame Street has long since taken upon itself to feature muppets with diversity. They have previously featured Kami, a 5-year-old HIV-positive muppet and Zari, an Afghan girl in a multi-colour wig on their show in 2016.
Julia, the autistic Muppet, was announced back in 2015 as a character who would appear in the show's digital videos and books. But she's only now making her appearance on the flagship series.
The introduction of Julia is done via a human, Alan (Alan Muraoka), who owns Hooper's Store on Sesame Street. Humans on the popular kids show are often used as mouthpieces or providers of information, which help further the show's narrative.
Viewers first meet Julia as she is colouring with Sesame Street regulars Elmo the monster, Abby Cadabby the fairy and Alan.
When Big Bird, the extremely friendly muppet, drops by and introduces himself to Julia, she doesn't talk to him. He wonders whether she's shy, and says, "I can feel shy sometimes, too."
Alan and the gang very quickly and directly explain Julia’s autism and how it affects her personality.
Alan tells the muppets, "She might not answer you right away."
Soon enough, Julia has introduced the gang to an impromptu game of what she calls 'boing-boing,' which Abby then terms 'boing tag.' Julia is upset by the sound of a passing police siren, but her friends have learned how to comfort her and patiently wait for her to redirect.
Sesame Street has once again done its job with little fanfare or a self-congratulatory narrative. This has been the same message it has been passing out since 1969: We all belong here, we are all friends, and sharing is the best way to get along.
Here's 'Meet Julia' from Sesame Street:
Julia is part of Sesame Street's autism initiative, 'See Amazing in All Children', which aims to increase understanding around autism—and provides tools for families of children with autism to overcome everyday challenges.
Stacy Gordon, the veteran puppeteer who brings life to Julia’s character, has an autistic son and says that she wants to do her best to let people see Julia in the best light possible.
Here's the video:
Published Date: Apr 17, 2017 04:13 pm | Updated Date: Apr 17, 2017 05:43 pm