Julie on the Street

Childrens Television Workshop

Children’s Television Workshop

Lardell Clark, Guest Columnist

Sesame Street has been known for walking the kids of many generations through many adult themes such as death, the 9/11 attack, and cancer, but recently Sesame Street began tackling a new topic: Autism. Many people don’t know but in the Sesame Street books there has been an autistic Muppet named Julie who recently has been added to the television cast of characters. In fact, her first episode aired April 10th. She was introduced to Big Bird as a new friend by the greatest Muppet of all time Elmo. The first Autistic habit introduced was ignoring of people. Big Bird took this as Julie not liking him, but this would be clarified by one of the adults on the show.

Another symptom is shown by Julie and this one is not so easily brushed off: Julie’s sensitivity to loud noises. A siren rings very loudly causing Julie to go into somewhat of a panic attack. This scares Big Bird who is calmed down by Elmo.  The adult jumps to the rescue and calms Julie down by bringing her somewhere quiet and using her bunny fluffles to calm her. This was handled greatly while teaching kids what do and what to avoid for kids who suffer from this side effect.

Lastly in a very kind gesture, Julie comes back down and Elmo makes a speech about how different they all are. He talks about how Elmo is a monster, the fairy is a fairy, and Julie is human and yet they all get along and are friends. This was almost directly saying that just because someone has autism they are no different than us.

Children’s Television Workshop

In an article by the New York Times with the brains behind this, producers said, “We wanted to demonstrate some of the characteristics of autism in a positive way.” Though some critics have said that girls don’t normally get Autism at the same rate as boys the producers went on to say they did this “in part in order to break down ‘myths and misconceptions around autism,’ such as that it only affects males.” This is true and also the exact reason why they made her girl to represent an unrepresented portion of kids. Stacey Gordon the woman who voices Julie is a mother of Autistic kids herself and was overjoyed to play her.

Overall, this serves as a great tool in teaching the kids of tomorrow that kids with conditions like these can be a friend and to not judge on their actions and be fair to them as a whole. I loved the episode and recommend anyone whether they have kids, nieces, nephews, little siblings, or just to be want to be educated about this condition to watch this episode. It was so carefully planned and made going as far as to make the gender female on purpose. Julie is the leader in a new wave of Muppets meant to teach kids about the differences we as humans have between each other.

The link here is to the video that introduces my favorite Muppet Julie, and it is really something special.