Appreciating Autism with Julia

Appreciating Autism with Julia

Julia, the new Muppet with autism autistic on Sesame Street autism awareness appreciation

Sesame Street in October 2015 introduced Julia, a Muppet with autism in one of their storybooks. On Monday, April 10, Julia mad her screen debut!

 

Sunny days have become sunnier at Sesame Street with a new kid on the block, a vivacious girl with bright red hair and large, expressive green eyes. Meet Julia. And she happens to have autism. Announced October 2015Julia made her debut on the beloved children’s show Monday, April 10, as part of Autism Awareness Month. In a video to introduce the character, Julia’s friend Abby Cadabby explains, “lots of kids have autism.” And “that means their brains just work a little differently,” she continues.  As the Amazing Song proclaims, this effort by Sesame Street is to promote not just autism awareness, but autism acceptance and appreciation.

(CBS News made the announcement on Sunday, April 2; the following day, Julia was introduced in Congress.  Incidentally, Power Rangers introduced Billy, a blue character with autism.)

 

A Basis on Research and Experience

Noteworthy is that the people who create and enact the show themselves have experience with autism. Frank Campagna, the writer of the respected blog “Autism Daddy” is one of the video producers at Children’s Television Workshop. In his blog, he discusses how, after the birth of his severely autistic son, he sought to bring awareness and acceptance of the condition on the show.  And bringing Julia to life is puppeteer Stacey Gordon, an advocate and a parent of a boy with autism.

A researcher at Virginia Tech, herself a mom of a boy with autism, praises the way Julia doesn’t just talk about autism, but shows her young audience how autism is another way of thinking and being, providing the tools for them to interact with their autistic peers.

 

Resources for Parents

“Sesame Street and Autism” offers a variety of resources for parents, including the following:  Storybook image of Julia, a Sesame Street Muppet with autism

 

Sunny Day
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet

Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street

Come and play
Everything’s A-OK
Friendly neighbors there
That’s where we meet….

“It Is You I Like” – Fred Rogers and a Friend Are Reunited 20 Years Later

In 1981, Fred Rogers had a simple, yet profound message for Jeff Erlanger, a boy who was permanently disabled during a complex surgery.  The sincere positivity of both Jeff and Mister Rogers shone through.

“Fast forward” some 20 years latter, and Fred has a surprise reunion with Jeff, now a young man.  Said Jeff. “You know, when you tell people that ‘It’s you I like,’ you know that you really mean it.  And tonight, I want to let you know that, on behalf of millions of children and grown-ups, it is you that I like.”

Just recently, the online magazine and blog, Petzoid, reminded us how Fred Rogers has touched the lives of so many children, who as adults never forget the kindness of this of a very special man.

Battling the Bad with Beauty: A Girl Helps Another Girl Help Girls Around the World

Eight-year-old Alliana created this beautiful butterfly, of which she is selling prints to raise money for the Malala Fund.

Eight-year-old Alliana created this beautiful butterfly, of which she is selling prints to raise money for the Malala Fund.

   A little treasure arrived in the mail today. A lovely 8-year-old girl from Manitoba, Canada, has created a beautiful piece of artwork depicting a butterfly with hearts and other patterns; she is selling copies of her work and donating all proceeds to the Malala Fund. Battle the bad with beauty. A child helping another child help children around the world!
   Having encountered butterflies in some of the most haunting drawings and poetry by children during the Holocaust, the theme has added meaning to me. I also love the personal note from the artist!
   In the hope that others will support her endeavor, I append a link to her Facebook page.  She also has a Web page, with commentary!