Sesame Street Welcomes First Autistic Character
Our favorite Sesame Street gang welcomes their newest friend, Julia! What makes Julia special? She has autism. Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children aims to reduce "the stigma of autism" with the introduction of the first character with autism.
"Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied," senior vice president of U.S. social impact, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, tells PEOPLE. "And with one in 68 children having autism, that's a lot of bullying. Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences. Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group."
By introducing Julia, the program hopes to raise awareness and help people understand autism better. In the books, Julia will explain to kids that she likes to play differently from them. They want people to realize autism doesn't have to be a sensitive subject.
"We are trying to spread the story about the theory behind this whole thing – love and acceptance," says Dr. Betencourt. "Everyone is touched by autism, and by creating Julia, Sesame is bringing children together."