Sesame Street is adding a new character to its lineup with Julia, a muppet who has vibrant red hair and autism.
Julia is already a staple in Sesame Street digital and print books, and will appear in the 47th season of Sesame Street in April, the Associated Press reported.
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, announced in 2015 that Julia would join Elmo and the gang in books and an app as part of the "Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children" campaign. Julia, who "does things a little differently," according to the workshop, is part of the campaign focused on reducing the stigma of autism.
And while the show may make it look like Julia’s character effortlessly came together, it took years of consulting with organizations and experts in the autism community to develop her character, and the campaign, Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact, told AP.
"In the U.S., one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder," Betancourt said in the interview. "We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children. We're modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share."