Sesame Street's newest character is a four-year-old with bright orange hair who loves to play - she also has autism.
For more than a year, Julia has existed online as the central character of an initiative by Sesame Workshop called Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. But finally this popular character will make her debut on the show this April.
Introducing autism to kids
Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro, who has worked on the show for 25 years, explained their careful character planning to CBS News show 60 Minutes: "The big discussion right at the start was: 'How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?'"
"It's tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism."
The show wanted to teach kids more about their friends with autism so they could understand them better.
“So that when they encounter them in their real life it’s familiar. And they see that these — these can be their friends too. It’s important for kids without autism to see what autism can look like.”
Sesame Street was guided by autism organisations
Elmo helps Julia meet everyone
When Julia first meets Big Bird, she's reluctant to shake his hand, but Elmo explains that Julia has autism and sometimes it just takes her a little longer to do things.
Sesame Street producers hope Julia’s first episode will help the audience understand when a child with autism doesn’t react as they expect. pic.twitter.com/DJCFdksPIk— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 20, 2017
Another thing that makes Julia unique is that she's sensitive to loud noises and jumps up and down when she gets excited. The rest of the muppets copy her behaviour and make a game out of it.
Julia's puppeteer Stacey Gordon has a son with autism
She hopes that Sesame Street's newest member will be helpful for everyone.
"Had my son's friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that's OK."