Sesame Street introduces first character with autism

Julia and Elmo playing together.
Julia and Elmo playing together. 

Sesame Street continues to reflect the world its fans live in by introducing an autistic character. And she's a girl.

Julia, a puppet with bright orange hair and green eyes joined Wednesday's episode of Sesame Street as part of a campaign to 'see amazing in all children'.

Julia and Sesame Street regular Elmo go on a playdate during the episode and Elmo helps other children understand Julia's unique qualities.

"Elmo's daddy told Elmo that Julia has autism," he says. "So she does things a little differently. Sometimes Elmo talks to Julia using fewer words and says the same thing a few times. ... Oh, and sometimes Elmo waits a long time for Julia to answer."

"Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied," Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president of community and family engagement at Sesame Workshop, told People magazine.

They've also launched a new online storybook called We're Amazing, 1, 2, 3 as part of a broader initiative designed with input from parents, people who serve the autism community and people with autism themselves. It was created over three years according to People.

"And with one in 68 children having autism, that's a lot of bullying," said Dr. Betancourt.

"Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences.

"Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group."

It's not the first time children with autism have been portrayed on television. The family drama Parenthood focused on child character Max whose parents eventually start a new school for children with learning difficulties like he does.