|Portrayed by||Stacey Gordon|
|Appears in||Sesame Street|
Julia is a recurring character in the American children's series Sesame Street.
Julia was introduced in context of Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, an autism awareness initiative aiming to reduce the stigma surrounding autism. In addition to introducing Julia, the initiative also offers resources for autistic children and their families, such as schedules, social stories, and guides for siblings and friends of autistic children. The initiative start in 2015, with Julia making her first appearance in the 2016 digital storybook We're amazing, 1, 2, 3!, and making her first appearance as a puppet in April 2017.
Many people and organisations were consulted for the initiative and the creation of the character; both from parents of autistic children, people who work with the autistic community, and autistic people themselves. Among these are Julia Bascom (president of the autistic self-advocay network (ASAN)) and Autism Speaks. Puppeteer Stacey Gordon is also mother to a child with autism.
ASAN pushed for a respectful and positive portrayal, both for Julia and the characters around her (since they model behaviour for the neurotypical children that are watching).
The character of Julia has received a largely positive response, including from autistic people. It has caused increased acceptance in parents with and without autistic children. However, ASAN ended their partnership with Sesame Street due to the latter promoting the Autism Speaks Screen for Autism initiative, which promotes harmful ideas about autism and autistic people.
One point of criticism has been the use of person-first language over identity-frist language.
- Julia is named after writer Leslie Kimmelman's eldest daughter.
Other autistic PBS characters
- Kerry Lengel. Meet Stacey Gordon, the Phoenix mom who plays 'Sesame Street's' first character with autism. The Arizona Republic. Retrieved on 2023-08-20.