'Sesame Street' introduces first character with autism on '60 Minutes'


The creative team behind "Sesame Street's" newest addition worked with autism organizations to decide which characteristics Julia should have and how best to normalize autism for all children. Julia is hesitant to shake Big Bird's hand when they meet, and Big Bird thinks she doesn't like him - Elmo then explains to Big Bird that Julia has autism, and "sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things".

Diagnoses of autism have risen steadily in recent years to the rate of one in every 68 American children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Allen says some children with autism can find it hard to make friends, and need other children to learn to better understand how they function.

60 Minutes visits "Sesame Street" for the 1st time and films the debut of new Muppet, Julia, who has autism.

"There is an expression that goes, 'If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.'" Ferraro said.

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As with other children on the Autistic spectrum, Julia will have a heightened sensitivity to noises, which could trigger a meltdown.

Latest figures show a steady rise in autism diagnoses in the United States over recent years, with one in every 68 children now being affected. Stacey Gordon, the mother of a son with autism, will be the puppeteer for Julia.

"I thought that maybe she didn't like me", he said. Big Bird told Stahl he had initially been perturbed by Julia's lack of response. The character made her debut on a clip on 60 Minutes, a news magazine show on CBS News.

Sesame Street has always been a friendly, welcoming place for kids, and now the show is making it clear that they want to be more welcoming than ever.

Designers use 2 sets of arms for Julia, who uses them to express emotions.

The character will be featured on two episodes of the latest season and become main character by April. When Big Bird worries that Julia doesn't like him, the other Muppets explain, "She does things just a little differently". She was so well-received producers chose to have her come and play where everything's A-OK and set about designing a new Muppet and will make her TV debut in the U.S. on 10 April. She likes to play games, blow bubbles and cuddle her favorite stuffed animal.

Stacy Gordon, who plays Julia on screen, has been thinking of one such child in particular, her son, who is on the autism spectrum.

A yellow Muppet with green eyes and bright copper hair, Julia is four years old and has autism.

She said creating the character was challenging because autism is different in every person who has it.