The gang from “Sesame Street” is welcoming a new member to the neighborhood — Julia, a girl who has bright orange hair and big green eyes.
She also has autism.
Julia is the latest creation from the Sesame Workshop, and she offers children a relatable character they can understand, whether they’re living with autism or know someone who is.
On Wednesday, “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” was launched online, and Julia is just part of that educational and awareness initiative.
“Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president of community and family engagement at Sesame Workshop, told People magazine. “And with one 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.”
Kids can already get to know Julia through a new online storybook called “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!”
In the story, fan favorite Muppet Elmo goes on a playdate with his pal Julia and helps another friend, Abby, understand Julia.
“Elmo’s daddy told Elmo that Julia has autism,” he says. “So she does things a little differently. Sometimes Elmo talks to Julia using fewer words and says the same thing a few times. … Oh, and sometimes Elmo waits a long time for Julia to answer.”
Knowing that, Abby finds it easy to make friends with Julia, too.
But Julia’s storybook isn’t the only story available:
“Sesame Workshop is uniquely positioned to play a meaningful role in increasing peoples’ understanding about autism,” Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, said 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.”
See all the resources for parents, caregivers, teacher and kids at www.SesameStreet.org/Autism.
This article first appeared on TODAY.com.