Sesame Street to get first autistic character

Julia will make her Sesame Street debut on April 10. Credit: AP

Sesame Street is to get its first autistic character.

Julia will aim to "reduce the stigma" attached to the condition, programme bosses have said.

Although the character already exists in print and digital stories as part of an initiative called Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing In All Children, she will make her television debut in the US on April 10.

Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of US social impact, said: "In the US, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

"We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children.

"Just as we look at all children as being unique, we should do the same thing when we're looking at children with autism."

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: "We're really pleased to see a popular TV show like Sesame Street introducing an autistic character.

"This is a significant step in improving public understanding of autism, and making people on the autism spectrum feel more accepted.

"Almost everyone has heard of autism now. But a much smaller number of people understand what it actually means to be autistic, the difficulties autistic people can face – and their strengths too.

"Some of the biggest leaps forward in understanding of autism have happened because of films, books and TV shows, like ‘The A Word' and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’.

"We hope that Julia, the Sesame Street character, will have a similar effect and inspire other writers and film-makers to reflect the diversity of the autism spectrum in their work.”