Here’s What Sesame Street’s Julia Will Teach Your Kids
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Have your kids met Julia yet? They’re going to love her because she’s truly remarkable! She’s an endearing yellow muppet, and the latest addition to the Sesame Street family. A refreshing and long-overdue addition, Julia is the first muppet with autism and she serves as an important lesson to all kids regardless of whether or not they have special needs.
Julia shows us that with a little help anyone can fit it. While Julia does challenge many of the ideas about autism, she stops short of sugar-coating the disorder. In the free digital storybook, We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!, in which she make her debut, we see how she grapples with social situations and get a glimpse of some of her sensory issues.
With more and more kids around the world being diagnosed with autism, we need Julia now more than ever. She’s the role-model we’ve been waiting for, and the perfect one to help challenge the many misconceptions surrounding the disorder. The hope is also that in changing the face of autism, Julia will empower children with autism and show them that they too belong.
As times goes by, Julia will come to mean different things to different people. But it’s the lessons our kids take away from this new character that matter most. Here’s what Julia means for your kids.
1. Challenges the stereotypes
It’s commonly accepted that autism affects more boys than girls. And while there may be some truth to this, it’s a controversial theory. There are many studies which suggest that girls tend to go undiagnosed as they’re better at hiding their difficulties than boys. Regardless of what the research indicates, we should applaud Sesame Street for making Julia a girl. This was a bold decision which does a lot to challenge many of the stereotypes about this disorder. We can only hope that this has an impact not only on how autism is perceived, but also on how it is diagnosed and treated.
2. Reminds us that different is amazing
One of the main lessons Julia teaches kids is that being different isn’t bad. In fact, in the digital storybook in which Julia appears, Elmo and Abby constantly remind us that “we’re all amazing.” This is a refreshing way of seeing things and helps remove some of the stigma surrounding disorders like autism. Julia shows us that all kids are special in their own way, and instead of focusing on what makes us different we should accept and even celebrate these differences. After all, all kids whether or not they have special needs, are unique in some way. Julia helps us see that.
3. Helps kids belong
Julia may have autism, but that doesn’t stop her. She’s still very much part of the Sesame Street gang. We see her playing with Elmo and Abby even though she finds social interaction challenging. It’s also quite moving to see how patient and understanding Elmo and Abby are. They don’t exclude or make fun of her even when she struggles with things that come easily to them. And why would they? After all, they’re true friends.
The hope is that all kids will learn and be inspired by this. Perhaps Julia will help kids with special needs find a place where the belong and feel they fit in. And who knows, by confronting the many misconceptions around autism, Julia and her special friends may even help reduce bullying in schools. After all, you can’t underestimate what it means for all kids to see Elmo and Abby playing with an autistic muppet.
How has Julia impacted your kids? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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