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Sesame Street Introduces Its First Autistic Character, Julia

Sesame Street's new autistic character, Julia
Sesame Street has introduced its first autistic character, Julia -- get to know her here.

Welcome to the block, Julia! Sesame Street has introduced its first-ever autistic character, Julia, to its universe as part of its “See Amazing” initiative, the program revealed on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

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Julia is the newest pal to join Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, and other beloved characters on the long-running children’s show. The sunny, big-eyed, little girl with a cute smile is part of a new initiative that seeks to bring awareness to autism.

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There’s a digital storybook in which Elmo explains to his friend on the playground why their peer Julia is different. “Elmo’s daddy told Elmo that Julia has autism,” the furry red critter says to his friend. “So she does things a little differently. Sometimes Elmo talks to Julia using fewer words and says the same thing a few times.”

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The book’s author, Leslie Kimmelman, explained in a letter that writing the story hit close to home.

“More than 20 years ago, my beautiful son received the diagnosis of autism, and my world changed instantly and profoundly,” Kimmelman revealed. “I knew nothing about autism, and it seemed that those around me—even the professionals—didn’t know much either. Today, happily, that has changed. There’s greater awareness, and there has been much progress understanding autism. But it’s still a puzzle, and every child is affected differently. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.’ So what’s the most important thing for people to know? We’re all different in some way or another—that’s what makes the world an interesting place. And equally, all of us in our own way are amazing!”

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According to statistics, one out of every 68 children in the United States has a type of of autism.

Sesame Street partnered with organizations like Autism Speaks and the Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) to make sure that the materials presented by the brand were educational, respectful, and positive about autism.

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