Sesame Street tackling stigma about autism with new character

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Calling it an initiative to take the stigma out of the development disorder, the Sesame Street Workshop is introducing a new character named Julia: a preschooler with autism.

The TV show’s decision is winning high praise from many, including Anya Walsh, the Director of Operations at the Autism Society of BC.

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Julia will be included in digital and printed story books featuring Sesame Workshop characters, and the new initiative is also aimed at helping those who deal with autism by promoting a better understanding of the condition.

Julia will be portrayed as a girl who “does things a little differently” when playing with her Muppet friends and for now the target audience is children between two and five.

Autism can present itself in a number of ways, like avoiding eye contact, limited speech or none at all, not smiling, and lack of interest in playing or interacting with others.

Rachel Simmons is the co-founder of “Girls Leadership”, the Orlando, Florida based non-profit group, and the author of “Odd Girl Out.”

Speaking on ABC’S Good Morning America, she talked about the potential benefits of the initiative.

The rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Canada is largely now estimated around one percent and it is often first exhibited between 12 to 24 months, with boys as much as five times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

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