'Sesame Street' Is Set To Introduce A New Muppet To Break Boundaries Once Again
Sesame Street has long been at the forefront of children's television since the end of the 1960s.
It's estimated that 77 million Americans have watched the series as kids - that's almost a quarter of the US population! From Big Bird to The Muppets, it's hard to not find something you don't like about them.
The show, almost without you realising it, has educated the next generation for years. Sesame Street has attentively tackled big issues, such as 9/11, tolerated diversity and found non-violent ways of dealing with conflict.
It's now introducing a new character whose aim is to break boundaries once again. Meet Julia.
Credit: USA Today
Julia has autism and will be appearing in the neighbourhood from April.
She was first seen in an online-only digital version called Sesame Street and Autism: See the amazing in all children - where she had a playdate with Elmo and Abby Cadabby.
She's now a full-blown Muppet, with her gender also raising eyebrows as researchers believe the condition is undiagnosed in girls.
Julia will be introduced in a pretty meaningful way, too. Elmo and Abby will bring her to meet Big Bird, who'll offer to shake her hand, which Julia will be hesitant to do.
"Julia has autism and sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things," Elmo will explain. From there, they learn how to play together and everyone, as is pure nature on the street, has fun.
It's been a well-thought out idea.
"It's tricky because autism is not one thing," says writer Christine Ferraro. "It is different for every single person who has autism."
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The puppet's designer, Rollie Krewson, stated that they've thought about every detail.
He said: "Her eyes had to be a certain way because she has to have an intense look, but she has to look friendly."
She's got short hair so it doesn't get in her eyes and mouth, clothes free of distracting buttons, and even has a different set of eyes so she can close them when she needs time to calm down. She also has a set of arms that can flap wildly if she's overwhelmed.
The team consulted with autism organizations, educators, and families on how to portray a child with autism.
It would seem Sesame Street has got this bang on. But there's still lots to be done in terms of people's attitudes towards autism.
LADbible recently told the story of Nick Gilling. An 18-year-old music student who has Asperger's but felt that he struggled in society as he wasn't understood.
You can read his full story here, but with shows such as Sesame Street making huge strides in the field, hopefully it can help change attitudes.
If you're interested in finding out more about autism and mental health, you can visit the National Autistic Society's website.
'U OK M8?' is an initiative from TheLADbible in partnership with a range of mental health charities which will feature a series of films and stories to raise awareness of mental health.
Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Reach out. It's the brave thing to do.
MIND: 0300 123 3393.
Samaritans: 116 123.
CALM: Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.
Featured Image Credit: Sesame Street