When Sesame Street began in 1969, it was considered an experiment. The question: Could television be used to educate young children?
Well, research proved the answer to be yes, and the nonprofit children’s television workshop – now called Sesame Workshop – that created the show, has been refining and expanding that mission ever since, everything from ABC’s and 123’s, to race, and even death. In a few weeks, Sesame Street will take on its latest challenge: introducing a Muppet named Julia, who has autism. Rather than being treated like an outsider, which often is the plight of kids on the spectrum, the Muppet youngster is one of the gang.
In an upcoming scene, Julia is about to play a game with Oscar, Abby and Grover. The Muppet friends have been challenged to spot objects shaped like squares or circles or triangles. “You’re lucky,” Abby says to Grover. “You have Julia on your team, and she is really good at finding shapes!”
For more than a year, Julia has existed in print and digital illustrations as the centerpiece of a multifaceted initiative by Sesame Workshop called Sesame Street and Autism. Now Julia has been brought to life as a Muppet. She makes her TV debut on Sesame Street in the upcoming Meet Julia episode.