Sesame Street's newest fuzzy friend helping spread autism awareness

Abilene mom speaks out on new Sesame Street character with autism

ABILENE, Texas - Since hitting the airwaves over four decades ago Sesame Street has seen its fair share of fuzzy friends but none quite like their newest character, Julia, the first character with autism.

Creators introduced Julia as a part of Sesame Street's campaign ‘Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children.'

AISD Head Start Disabilities Coordinator, VaLynda Miller, said she was excited to hear the news about Julia and hopes she can help families raising children with autism.

"I'm glad it's here, but I hope they proceed with caution and do a good job representing autism," Miller said. "There are children with high functioning intelligence that have autism and children with intellectual disabilities."

Julia's stories are designed to help other children understand how to play with children with autism.

"I think it's going to bring awareness to families and young children who don't have autism so hopefully there is less bullying in school and more acceptance," Miller said.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism and boys are diagnosed 4.5 times as often. That is why many, including Miller, were surprised that the creators used a girl to represent the disease.

"It would make sense to have a boy because there is a high prevalence of boys that have autism then girls," Miller said.

"I was surprised it was a girl too," Founder of Reach for A Difference an autism support group, Sara Collins said.

Collins youngest daughter Phoebe is autistic.

"It doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl because both boys and girls have it," Collins said. "I'm just glad that they're bringing awareness to the disorder."

Collins said she hopes Julia teaches this new generation how to interact with autism.

"Parents are so thrilled that children are going to be taught how to deal with situations. Instead of taking your child somewhere and getting that look of, ‘that child is different' ‘what is going on with that child?' ‘They aren't acting like we do," Collins said.

As of now Julia functions on an app parents can download on their smartphones and devices, but may be included on the show in the future.

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