The role of Julia is played by Stacey Gordon … a Phoenix-based puppeteer who … has a [13-year-old] son with autism, and, before she started her family, was a therapist to youngsters on the spectrum.
It’s about time Sesame Street saw the introduction of an autistic muppet!
Having a character that exhibits common traits of autism on the longest running and best-loved children’s television is an enormous step. It means educating children from a very young age, and in a subtle way, that differences can be something to be celebrated not feared. That they are, in fact, a normal part of life.
I remember when I was in elementary school, there was a “special” class. They had their break times apart from the rest of the school population and they used the playground at times when we weren’t on it. The only thing that accomplished was to make the kids with special needs “freaks” in our eyes. We had terrible names for them, mostly out of fear. I’m so glad that things have changed. Now my child is part of activities and clubs in her high school. She is recognized, liked and well-treated by all. It’s the way it should be.
It’s nice to see more diversity in the media and in the shows our children are exposed to first. It’s too bad this wasn’t a thing when my daughter was in elementary school. I think it would have helped her classmates to understand her better when they were all little.
Diversity is a fact of life, not just a trend. Way to go, Sesame Street! Better late than never!