Barber Institute & Sesame Street Create New Character with Autism
There's Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird, of course. But now, children may have a new favorite.
"Julia... she's my favorite character," said Olivia Moffett, a preschool student at the Barber Institute.
Julia is Sesame Street's first ever character with autism.
"People don't understand children with autism, they think they're more different than they're more alike, and I'm hoping that with the Sesame Street campaign, focusing on children 2-5 years of age, that these very young children will get to see, it's okay to have a disability," said Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey, Vice President of the Barber National Institute.
1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism. But public understanding of the disorder is still lacking. That's why Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey suggested the idea for Julia.
"I think too often it's just, you're fearful of what you don't know or what you don't understand, but as we bring more understanding, then I think that people really accept all children as amazing."
The Barber Institute is introducing Sesame Street's new character to pre-schoolers, through the "We're Amazing: 1,2,3" book."It's a great book and a great idea, we talk all the time about just the children in our room being different and getting along and being friends with each other," said Julie Brenna, a teacher in the Pre-K Counts program at the Barber Institute.
The students in the Pre-K Counts program at the Barber Institute were very excited about to meet their new friend.
Parents like Deana Nelson who has an autistic child of her own, appreciate how important this is for society.
"It lets a lot of parents see, a different side of things they might not normally see, bringing the autism spectrum to the forefront and especially incorporating it into Sesame Street, is wonderful," said Nelson.
Incorporating an autistic character like Julia is just the first step in showing the world that all children are amazing.