Meet Julia, the newest Muppet to join the Sesame Street cast. She’s more than just another character: Julia has autism.
The show’s creators introduced her to the world on last night’s episode of 60 Minutes. As cool as this is, it’s also significant that Julia is a girl, because experts suggest autism is underdiagnosed in women.
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 19, 2017
Portraying a character with autism presents some challenges to make the character appropriate and appropriately sensitive. This isn’t lost on Sesame Street‘s writers. One writer, Christine Ferraro, told Vulture that writers consulted with “autism organizations, educators and families” on the complexities of children with autism.
“It’s tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism,” she said.
In this instance, the person most connected to Julia—the character’s puppeteer, Stacey Gordon—has a direct connection with autism: She’s the parent of an autistic child.
Julia will begin appearing on Sesame Street in April.