Her name is Julia. She is four years old, she has bright orange hair, and she has autism. Julia first appeared online and in print as part of a “Sesame Street” and autism initiative, singing Sunny Days with her friend Abby Cadabby (the 3-year-old fairy played by Leslie Carrara-Rudolph). She has landed two episodes in the current season, and will appear in more on the next. It’s the first time in a decade that the classic children’s show has introduced a new character.
Veteran puppeteer Stacy Gordon will play Julia, a role that has special meaning for her as the parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder. “Man, I really wish that kids in my son’s class had grown up with a ‘Sesame Street’ that had modeling [of] the behavior of inclusion of characters with autism,” Gordon told NPR.
Julia has excellent drawing skills and she loves to sing, and sometimes Big Bird has to say things more than once to get her attention. “That’s just Julia being Julia,” said Abby.