Good Thing: Sesame Street Introduces Julia, A Muppet With Autism

Lesley Stahl watches a taping of “Sesame Street”               CBS News

The newest "Sesame Street" character, Julia, will have autism as the show attempts to teach children about the disorder. "They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that's OK".

Julia will be introduced to viewers on April 10 and will appear in two episodes this season, and more next season. When Elmo approaches her to play in the embedded video, Julia doesn't make eye contact but he persists and suggests "side-by-side play". "And they see that these- these can be their friends too". "It's just that Julia has autism". She also has a son with autism, and, before she started her family, was a therapist to youngsters on the spectrum.

However, the other muppets tell him: "She does things just a little differently". Starting out as an educational show for children in the 1960s, it has deftly switched between ABCs and 123s and teaching about issues such as race and death.

60 Minutes offered a preview of Julia on Sunday's episode when correspondent Lesley Stahl visited the Sesame Street set while Julia's first episode was being filmed.

Stacey Gordon, Julia's puppeteer, has a son with autism and was previously a therapist to children on the spectrum.

Come April, kiddie viewers will be seeing more of Julia when she makes her transition to the live-action fold of the long-running children's show, as revealed in a segment screened Sunday on the USA version of 60 Minutes.

"We're modelling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share", she added. Notably, and commendably, Sesame Workshop chose to create a female Muppet with autism to dispel the common assumption that only boys are autistic.

"We had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird", Elmo said.

"How we might interact with a child that is affected I think is great education for our community", she told WWJ's Laura Bonnell.

The little girl Muppet with red hair and a favorite bunny clutched in her hand has been in "Sesame Street's" online Digital Storybook series since 2015. They might not have been anxious when he cried.

Julia is a muppet who has autism.