Meet Julia, Sesame Street’s Newest Neighbor

Meet Julia, Sesame Street’s Newest Neighbor

Sesame Street is never shy when facing the events that shape the culture for its young viewers and parents. The HBO series, which built its reputation as a staple of public broadcasting’s PBS, has covered the entirety of social situations and healthy living for children since 1969. Now in its 47th season, Big Bird and the gang are welcoming a new Muppet character, Julia.

Famously, the neighborhood store’s friendly grocer, Mister Hooper, passed away on December 7th, 1982, leading the show to approach the subject of death and its affects on friendship and families in 1983. Children learned that death is a part of life and the subject matter, though difficult, was dealt with in a way that allowed for grief, while still providing education, closure and comfort.

Now, the new character of Julia is providing a healthy approach to explaining how some differences in communication and reaction is not something to shy away from. Julia, a Muppet with autism is a little red haired girl, whose “Muppet human” is the mother of a child with autism, with different verbal communication skills than Big Bird and others.

In her first episode, Elmo will explain that Julia does things a little differently than her neighbors, explaining to Big Bird, who felt Julia didn’t like him because she didn’t shake his hand.

Designers use 2 sets of arms for Julia, who uses them to express emotions. Sometimes, those arms are moving about happily, freely and other times they are less expressive.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” on CBS, writer Christine Ferraro said “It’s tricky, because autism is not one thing…it is different for every single person who has autism.” The relationship between Julia and the other members of the show will focus on communication and understanding. Julia’s sensitivity to sounds and new people will be a yet another teachable moment for the long-running series.