Today on HBO, Sesame Street the ever-educational sketch comedy featuring a veteran cast of muppets will introduce its first autistic muppet. Her name is Julia, and she is ‘different’, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Julia was first introduced to Street regular Emma through Elmo back in an episode back in 2016. Emma explains, “Elmo’s daddy told Elmo that Julia has autism, so she does things a little differently.” The show makes certain not to introduce Julia as a character with a disability or disorder, but instead a lead in through positive representation of what it means to be ‘different’.
She may decide to build her blocks into a tower, instead of a wall based on instructions. She may not respond accordingly to a question, and may be very sensitive to loud noises, so much so that the muppet may retreat to her favorite toy animal, Fluffster.
By happy accident, Stacey Gorden, the puppeteer of Julia has been preparing for Julia her whole life. Prior to her giving birth, Gorden worked closely with children diagnosed with autism.”I have a son who has high-functioning autism, and I want to do my best to bring Julia to the world in the best light possible,” said Gorden to Inside Edition.
Sesame Street doesn’t falter from showing Julia’s different personality traits. She flaps her hands like Big Bird does, makes little eye contact, and has great skill for drawing. According to Jstor Daily, “While the spectrum includes a range of behaviors, known autistic traits include fixations on objects, a resistance to change, decreased communication skills, lack of eye contact, injurious behaviors, delayed academic development, and limited emotional capacity.”
Since 1969, the TV show has set a prime example of how diversity casting and inclusiveness brings joy and better understanding of the world around us.
“Our kids are important enough to be seen in society. Because they are everywhere, everywhere.” Gorden states in a 60 Minutes interview.
Julia makes her Sesame Street debut today on HBO.
Julia was first introduced in a March article at Mxdwn Television.