Sesame Street’s Julia Is Breaking Barriers By Promoting Autism Awareness

 BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The newest resident on sesame street is a character with autism. Julia, is the first muppet to join the show in a long time.

As Amy Yensi reports, Julia is breaking barriers.

She doesn’t talk as much as Big Bird, but her presence on Sesame Street sends a powerful message.

The newest castmember, has orange hair and likes singing with friends.  She also has autism.

“When she gets upset, she flaps her hands,” master puppet creator Rollie Krewson.

Julia is sesame street’s first new character in a decade. The show has a reputation of inclusion.

Psychologist Antonia Girard, holds group therapy at the Mount Washington pediatric hospital, for children who have been diagnosed with autism or are showing signs of it. These signs include trouble making eye contact, communicating and interacting with others.

She tells WJZ, Sesame Street may soon be part of the sessions.

“I think Julia really provides an opportunity to understand what Julia looks like and then how to appropriately interact with a child with autism,” says Dr. Girard.

The C.D.C. estimates that 1 in 68 children U.S., are diagnosed with autism. Parrish was diagnosed was diagnosed 2 years ago.

Parrish’s mom Kendra, says she didn’t know much about autism until her son was diagnosed 2 years ago. She’s happy Julia is around.

“I was actually excited. So people can see what parents and kids actually go through.”

“It’s not that autism is more prevalent, it’s that we are better able to diagnose,” says Dr. Stephen Thompson, associate professor of pediatrics and neurology with the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Dr. Thompson says Julia will help reduce autism stigma.

“These children aren’t disabled. They’re differently abled,” he says.

Julia will make her debut this month. April is autism awareness month.

Sesame Street will air the special episode “Meet Julia” Monday, April 10 on HBO and PBS KIDS.

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