New Muppet Julia May Tackle Autism Stigma

Recently, the organization announced that a new Muppet was born. Her name is Julia, and she is autistic.

I grew up watching “Sesame Street.” I had so much fun watching the show that I didn’t even realize I was being taught.

The way Jim Henson’s Muppets interacted with each other and humans mesmerized me while I learned all about the letter and number of the day.

As a young parent, I would watch “Sesame Street” with my son, Julian. The show producers put enough adult situations into the script to hold my attention, as well.

Kermit and Grover were always my favorite characters. Watching the show as a grown-up (age-wise, anyway), their interaction in skits was the highlight for me.

Jim Henson and Frank Oz were Rowan and Martin under the stage, but they also taught tolerance.

Baby Bear had a speech impediment, and when my son was diagnosed with a similar-sounding deficit, I was grateful that at least some of his peers had been exposed to people sounding different and it not being a big deal.

In my son’s scholastic career, he never once said to me that anyone made fun of the way he talked, and I believe I have the good people at the Sesame Workshop to thank for that.

Recently, the organization announced that a new Muppet was born. Her name is Julia, and she is autistic.

It is purely by coincidence that Julia is the feminization of my son’s name, but I can’t help but feel that the connection was meant to be there.

Julia is described as a friend of Elmo who “does things differently” than most children. I looked on YouTube for a sneak peak of Julia in action, but there is none to be found.

Still, it makes me feel warm inside to know that “Sesame Street” is tackling the stigma of autism head on. Someone besides the education system has to do so.

The sooner you can acquaint a neurotypical child to an autistic child, the more comfortable it will make both of them.

Julian has done a very good job of using his abilities to do things differently, and I wish that for every autistic child. As a pharmacist, I know that some kids will be lower functioning than others, but I also believe that with services and sometimes medications (when everything else has been tried), there is room for improvement.

I believe Julia will be a very powerful tool in the fight against autism stigma. I am sure that the research on her has been done, but if I watch her and see a little room for improvement, I will let Sesame Workshop know, because I believe the knowledge of a parent of a child with high-functioning autism to be of merit.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, knows how to get to “Sesame Street.”