‘Sesame Street’ Announces Its First Muppet With Autism & This Is An Important Step

I can’t think of much that Sesame Street has done wrong in its time on the air, but I can think of about a bajillion things it has done right. Whether it’s providing educational programming to millions of children, integrating lessons about social issues in a way that children can understand, or just having the cutest puppets ever, the show does a lot right in its quest to influence millions of children. And now, the recent announcement that the Street’s newest resident would be a puppet with autism is one more step in a long line of amazing work that the series is doing to better our world, starting with the children who live in it. According to TVLine, the new puppet, Julia, will be introduced as a member of “Sesame Street and Autism See Amazing in All Children,” an initiative dedicated to teaching kids about autism and decreasing the number of incidents of bullying.

I honestly can’t think of a better place to launch this type of initiative than on Sesame Street, a show that is targeted at children as young as one year old. With such a huge, public outreach, this show and this character will be great for so many kids, no matter their age, background, or ability.

Part of what makes this initiative so great in the first place is that it's getting the information out there. With the launch of this new puppet, Sesame Street is educating the world about the plight that children with autism face. “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 Street, shared with People . With one in 68 children having autism, Dr. Betancourt added, the show’s goal “is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences.”

Can we get a huge round of applause for Sesame Street, please? Because I can only begin to imagine what amazing change this puppet — and the initiative behind it — will bring about. This will be great for both children who have autism, because they will be able to see themselves represented in the mainstream media, and for children who do not have autism, because it will help to normalize the condition and to understand what life is like for people who do.

Pretty amazing stuff, right? I have high hopes that this initiative will make a significant difference. Good ol’ Sesame Street. You can always count on them to make the world a happier place.