Meet Julia, the newest friend on popular, long-running children's television show, Sesame Street. Julia has autism. She and Elmo share an amazing friendship. She is depicted as a sweet and curious child who sometimes struggles with social interaction, but has a unique perspective on the world. Julia helps to increase awareness and understanding of autism, and demonstrates to children that everyone is unique and special in their own way.
Julia first made her appearance in a 2015 episode of Sesame Street, titled We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3! as part of a Sesame Street Workshop digital initiative, which included an app, videos, a storybook, and online resources for families of children with autism. She is the first muppet and Sesame Street figure on the Autism Spectrum. With the popularity and positive outlook Julia' character received, the Sesame Street producers officially added her to the show and she debuted in a 2017 episode, titled Meet Julia.
Sesame Street writers and producers consulted child psychologists, autism organizations, and educators to make sure they presented Julia sensitively and accurately. Because autism is on a spectrum, they carefully decided which of its many traits would manifest in Julia. They decided that she would have difficulty looking others in the eye, be sensitive to loud noises and bright lights, and would wave her arms around, or “flap,” when she became overwhelmed, upset, or excited. They also decided to give her a computer device to help her express herself.
In a special episode, on Autism Awareness day, Sesame Street revealed Julia’s home life. She has a mom who works as an art teacher, a saxophone-playing dad, a protective and patient older brother named Sam, and a cute brown companion dog named Rose.
Puppeteer Stacey Gordon, founder of the puppet website Puppet Pie, operates and voices Julia. She does have a special connection to the character as her son is on the autism spectrum, and she uses her experiences to inform her portrayal.