“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” Stephen Mark Shore
Last night Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes included a segment about Sesame Street‘s new autistic character Julia, who will be part of the regular television cast beginning in April. Many viewers are already aware of Julia who has been part of the online “See Amazing in All Children” initiative which was introduced in October 2015.
Stacey Gordon, the puppeteer who plays Julia, is intimately aware of autism, because she is the mother of an autistic child. Her experience with her own child gives a passion for making Julia a credible addition to the Sesame Street gang. Unlike the other puppets Julia has two sets of arms – one set flaps. She also has eyes that close when she is feeling overwhelmed.
Elmo helps Lesley Stahl understand autism.
“We had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird,” Elmo said. “It’s just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things.”
With sixty percent of autistic children victims of bullying, Julia is one step in bringing an understanding to children about differences. The 60 Minutes episode ends with Julia displaying her excitement by jumping up and down. The other characters take Julia’s cue and make a game out of it. “Boing Boing Boing” they say as they jump.
For those who missed the 60 Minutes segment you can view it here.
Sesame Street‘s first-run episodes are now shown on HBO.