There’s a new girl moving to Sesame Street: Julia, who has autism.
Julia will be featured online playing alongside characters like Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Grover, Sesame Workshop announced Wednesday.
As part of the effort to destigmatize autism, which affects 1 in 68 children in America, Sesame Workshop has also unveiled an interactive website called Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, along with resources for families, teachers, and caregivers. These include guides to simplify everyday activities that can pose challenges for children affected by autism, including bedtime routines, going to the grocery store, and brushing teeth.
The website is designed with adaptations for those with autism as well, including larger buttons, audio-off options, and other customizable features. An iPad app is also available on iTunes.
The initiative is the result of more than three years of production and testing.
“Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied,” Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president of U.S. social impact, Jeanette Betancourt, EdD, tells People. “And with 1 in 68 children having autism, that’s a lot of bullying. Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences. Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group.”
“Sesame Workshop is uniquely positioned to play a meaningful role in increasing peoples’ understanding about autism,” says Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, in a statement. “This project is an extension of the belief we’ve always promoted: ‘We are all different, but all the same.’ I am passionate about this initiative, and am so proud of the partnerships with the autism community that have led to this.”
Photo Illustrations: Marybeth Nelson/Sesame Workshop