Sesame Street Greets Autistic Muppet

Sesame Street Greets Autistic Muppet

Through Julia, Sesame Street once again teaches that being different is okay.

Beloved children’s television show Sesame Street has always been about learning new things and accepting people’s differences. On April 10th, Elmo, Big Bird, and Abby Cadabby will introduce the kids at home to a new friend, who’s different in a way they haven’t discussed before: Julia, a four-year-old autistic girl.

Julia first appeared in an online storybook in 2015, called We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3! In it, Elmo tells Abby, “Julia has autism, so she does things a little differently.” Over the course of the story, Abby sees the things Julia “does differently” – such as her lack of eye contact, how she is sometimes slow to respond, and the way she flaps her arms when she gets excited – and the three friends have fun playing together. Now, Abby is finally coming to the main television show, in Muppet form.

These days, American kids spend an average of 32 hours a week watching television, so a significant amount of what we see as “normal” is influenced by what we see on TV. And I don’t need to link statistics to tell you that kids (and adults) look at people who act in ways that are “not normal” and label them as “weird” at the least or bully and ostracize them at the worst.

Sesame Street acknowledges that there are many kinds of normal and champions people’s differences. For example, Elmo and Whoopi Goldberg once discussed how much they each liked their fur or skin and hair, respectively. In a more recent episode, the show discussed how people have different accents based on the language they speak and where they are from with a scene in which some rude kids make fun of Rosita's voice. The cast of Sesame Street teaches that there are many different ways to look and act, and with Julia it’s the same message.

In a YouTube video, Elmo wants to play with Julia, but she doesn’t engage with him. Instead of assuming that this means Julia doesn’t like him, Elmo is unbothered and suggests that they play “side-by-side” instead because there are “lots of ways friends can play” – and they do so, until Julia is ready to play together. In doing so, Elmo demonstrates acceptance towards a different way of behaving. Julia does not interact with people in the same way that Elmo does, and that’s okay. In clips from the upcoming episode in which Julia is officially introduced to the Sesame Street show, revealed in an episode of 60 Minutes, Elmo and the others acknowledge and accept the other ways that Julia is different. When they play tag together and she jumps around instead of running, nobody tells her that she’s playing the game wrong; instead, they decide that it looks like fun and turn it into a new game. When loud police sirens upset Julia, her friends usher her inside and away from the noise and then patiently wait for her to be ready to play again. Nobody dismisses her as unfriendly, difficult, or “weird.” Julia’s autism is accepted as a part of her, and the ways that she is “different” are treated in the show as her kind of “normal.”

I have no doubt that after watching Elmo and the others treat Julia with love and respect, kids in the real world will do the same when they come across someone who communicates and plays in a different way – and I hope that other television shows add autism to what they show as “normal,” too.

Cover Image Credit: ABC News

Popular Right Now

To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit:

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

5 Songs to Add to Your Playlist This Month

Spring into finals week (and the summer) by "cleaning up" your playlist


Here are some fun, fresh new tracks to check out as you finish out the rest of the school year and help you get out of your "music comfort zone!"

“Patience” by Tame Impala 

Genre: Electronic/Alternative

Tame Impala FINALLY released new music (!!), and this track is absolutely stunning. With frontrunner Kevin Parker staying on brand with the band's psychedelic, seemingly ethereal style, it sounds like a combination of 70s soft rock and waves of modern-day electronica, with Parker's voice drifting in and out in a kind of otherworldly, mellowed-out manner.

“Harmony Hall” by Vampire Weekend 

Genre: Alternative/Indie Pop

Vampire Weekend is also releasing an album, entitled "Father of the Bride", on May 3rd. From the looks of it, this track relates to the theme of marriage/weddings present in the album's title, and it is a fun, upbeat song that I have been listening to a lot in the morning as I'm getting ready for class! Ezra Koenig's voice is so unique and can cover a broad range, and I highly recommend listening to some of the band's other work as well ("Step" from their 2013 release "Modern Vampires of the City" is one of my all-time favorite songs!).

“Ready to Let Go” by Cage the Elephant 

Genre: Alternative/Alternative Rock

So many great artists are (finally) releasing new albums this year, and Cage the Elephant falls into this category. This track is an absolute banger and doesn't stray much from the band's style in that it includes a lot of loud guitar and dynamic vocals. Like Vampire Weekend, Cage the Elephant has been around since the early 2000s, and I highly recommend checking out some of their earlier work as well (big fan of their most recent album, actually!)

“Apple Orchard” by Beach House 

Genre: Indie/Electronic

Beach House is one of my favorite bands of all time, as I find a kind of an ethereal, beautiful sadness in the dreamy style of instrumentalist Alex Scally and lucid vocals of singer Victoria Legrand. This track is from their 2006 self-titled debut and is probably one of my favorite songs they've ever released. The lyrics are poetic and perfect for the post-finals enjoyment of spring weather, in that they preach relaxation and restfulness, and the song's electronic rhythms echo the essence of spring as well. If you like this song, then I highly recommend checking out the band's other albums as well (Depression Cherry is one of my favorite albums of all time).

“April Come She Will” by Simon & Garfunkel 

Genre: 60s Pop

No spring playlist is complete without a little Simon & Garfunkel! This song is a classic, its timeless, poetic lyrics capturing the epitome of the coming of spring and all its glory. In fact, I consider the entire album (entitled Sound of Silence) to be perfect for the pleasantness and feelings of renewal/natural revitalization associated with the coming months, so be sure to give it a listen if you haven't heard it before!

Related Content

Facebook Comments