For the first time in a decade, a new Muppet will move into the neighborhood on Sesame Street. Julia, a character with autism, will debut on 10 April 2017, and it is hoped that her inclusion in the show will help children learn about autism and embrace its differences. The character will be brought to life by puppeteer Stacey Gordon, whose son is on the autism spectrum. The frequency of autism diagnoses has shot up in recent years, and the CDC now estimates that one in 68 children are on the autism spectrum.
- Julia made her debut in a digital storybook in 2015, as part of a larger Sesame Street campaign to connect with autistic children and their families.
- “We realized if we brought her to life appearing in Sesame Street on air as well, she would have even more impact [and] be able to reach even more children," explained Sherrie Westin, an executive vice president at Sesame Workshop.
- Sesame Street has been at the forefront of bringing delicate subjects to its young audience. The show has previously tackled difficult topics such as divorce, incarceration, and grief.