'Sesame Street' to welcome first autistic Muppet

" You're beginning to introduce this person as a real person even though they are different", said Perry. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, first as a novel and then a play, introduced a wide audience to the intricacies of Asperger's syndrome from the perspective of family, friends, strangers and the individual themselves. She said the creation of Julia is: "huge".

"We felt that creating a character who was autistic would allow children to identify her but equally important, it would allow us to model for all children the differences and commonalities of a child with autism". These videos are separate from the show and target specific communities of children, walking them through complex issues.

The episode shows Julia playing with fellow Muppets Abby and Elmo when Big Bid enters the scene. It's particularly significant that Julia is female - many autism researchers believe the condition is severely under-diagnosed in girls. "There's a saying that if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism". There should be more awareness out there, not only to educate others, but to show the children with these disabilities that they are not alone.

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Sesame Street and its creators the Sesame Workshop, have been teaching this for years.

Julia is played by puppeteer Stacey Gordon, who told the Associated Press her 13-year-old son also has autism.

Julia will make her TV debut April 10 on HBO and PBS Kids.

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"Had my son's friends been exposed to his behaviors through something they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened", Gordon told 60 Minutes in a report that aired Sunday. They say every child with autism is different, and Julia is just one illustration. They might not have been anxious when he cried. Sesame Workshop has used the character to help parents and kids understand autism and the different symptoms, challenges, and strengths involved in the autism spectrum.

He thinks she doesn't like him but Abby says: "She does things just a little differently, in a Julia sort of way".

Cathie Newby is a mother of four - three of her children, Blake, 11, Callum, aged nine, and Kobe, aged six, are all on the Autism Spectrum.

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