MEET JULIA!

She’s a sweet and curious 4-year-old with autism.
Sesame Street’s newest character is teaching children and families all about acceptance. The orange-haired girl with twinkling
eyes sometimes does things differently, but that’s OK.

Elmo and Abby help the other kids on Sesame Street understand that even if Julia doesn’t look you in the eye, it doesn’t mean
that she doesn’t want to be your friend. Simply by making Julia “part of the gang,” she is already having a big impact.

THE NEED

In the U.S., 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with autism.¹ Almost every school and university in the country has students with autism.

While the diagnosis is common, public understanding of autism is not. The stigma surrounding autism can lead to discrimination
against autistic children, verbal abuse, even physical violence.

A recent study reveals that children with autism are five times more likely to be bullied than their peers—treatment no child
should endure.²

Sesame Street is helping families overcome the stigma of autism—building a kinder world for everyone.

THE INITIATIVE

While the differences between children with autism and their peers may seem significant, all children have something far more
important: unique qualities and talents that make the world an interesting place.

That’s why Sesame Workshop created Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, a nationwide initiative aimed at
communities with children aged 2-5. Developed with input from parents, autism service providers, and people with autism, See Amazing in All Children offers families step-by-step ways to simplify everyday activities and overcome common challenges—and increases acceptance and understanding of autism in communities.

The initiative’s interactive tools bring together many voices—individuals with autism, siblings, parents, professionals—and those learning about autism for the first time. Sesame Street’s beloved Muppets are there to celebrate the greatness of all children, with or without autism.

The materials are already having a big impact. Research by Georgetown University Medical Center and Children’s National Health System shows that after using our materials, parents without an autistic child experienced a significant increase in knowledge and acceptance of autism. And for parents who do have an autistic child, there was a significant increase in comfort level in involving their child in the community.³

The initiative has grown since its inception, now reaching children and families across the country—in both English and Spanish. Making Julia a Muppet friend on Sesame Street is a huge milestone in Sesame’s mission to help all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.

HIGHLIGHTS

Our multimedia, bilingual resources are all available at sesamestreet.org/autism

  • The Sesame Street episode, “Meet Julia”, welcomes Julia to the neighborhood
  • Six new digital clips feature Julia, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby playing together and reminding us what caring friendships
    look like
  • Videos celebrate real children’s many commonalities and differences, mixed with inspirational thoughts from moms and dads. The takeaway: “If you’ve seen one kid with autism, you’ve seen one kid with autism”
  • Digital family routine cards break down everyday activities, such as bedtime or brushing teeth, into simple steps
  • “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!” eBook highlights the amazing qualities of all children
  • Tips and strategies for siblings and community members
  • IOS and Android apps give families access to all the components of the project and much more

MEET THE PERFORMER BEHIND JULIA

Stacey Gordon is the performer behind Sesame Street’s newest friend, Julia—a Muppet with autism. Always fascinated by puppetry, Gordon built her first puppets as a teenager and was inspired by her grandfather who built marionettes. Before being cast as Julia, Gordon worked as a puppet builder and performer doing live shows and video work with the Mayfair Games, Etsy, The Phoenix Coyotes, and the Barenaked Ladies. She also teaches puppetry at a local high school, and does workshops at schools and libraries.

Gordon began her journey within the autism community in 2001 as a habilitation therapist for children with severe autism. In 2010, her son was diagnosed with high functioning Autism, and she uses her personal experiences as a habilitation specialist and a mom to bring Julia to life in an authentic, respectful, and loving way.
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