By: Kerry Magro, best-selling author, speaker, and disability advocate
With the news of Sesame Place becoming one of the first theme parks in the world to become a Certified Autism Center I wanted to take a moment to discuss the impact of one of our favorite Muppets in Julia who is 4 years old and has autism.
Just to backtrack – Julia was introduced on Sesame Street in 2015 as part of the Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative. In 2017, Julia had her television debut on Sesame Street on HBO. Some of the highlights of having Julia include:
- She gives a national audience to discuss Autism Spectrum Disorders and the importance of early intervention.
- Along with shows such as “The Good Doctor” and “Atypical,” we are seeing more portrayals of autism in our entertainment industry. While the characters in these two shows are of adult age, Julia is still in her adolescence.
- We get to talk about girls with autism.
- In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that boys are diagnosed with autism 5 times more often than girls. By deciding to make Julia a girl we have the opportunity to discuss more girls getting diagnosed on the spectrum so they don’t fall through the cracks.
- Spreading not only awareness but understanding of people with autism
- One fear of some families in the autism community is that their child may feel isolated at times. With Julia, there have been several other muppets such as Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby who have always shown kindness and respect towards her.
That last topic really hits home for me. As someone who has autism and watched Sesame Street for the first for years of my life, I wish I had someone like Julia to relate too. I felt different for a while and when you now have Julia, it’s an amazing feeling to see other muppets on the show treat Julia just like anyone else. It brings the topic of kindness in our society to the forefront and for that, I’ll always be grateful to their team.