© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

Sesame Street introduces new character with autism

George Berry
Sesame Street- Julia
Meet Julia (bottom left) Sesame Street's new character who suffers from autism. Sesame Street Workshop Media Release

New Zealand Autism Awareness Week coincides with famous children's show introducing an autistic character, Julia.

Meet Julia. She four years old and she has autism. And from April 10, she'll be on Sesame Street.

The children's show has added Julia to the cast to raise awareness for children who have autism and their families.

Autism New Zealand's chief executive Dane Dougan said for a mainstream show to do that was "very positive". His organisation would be promoting the addition of Julia as before and during autism awareness week, which started on April 3.

"We would promote this anyway regardless of when it was because it is a positive step in creating that understanding."

Julia, who loves to sing and can memorise lyrics better than her young peers, struggles with loud noises like sirens, which can cause her to become emotionally upset.

Dougan said Sesame Street had done a lot of work to make sure it got the right messages across. He looked forward to seeing the final product.

In a press release from Sesame Street, executive vice president Sherrie Westin said Julia would increase acceptance and provide more tools for families affected by autism.