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New Characters with Autism Join Sesame Street and the Power Rangers

     

April is Autism Awareness Month, drawing attention to the issue of autism, raising awareness and promoting inclusion, acceptance and appreciation of children and adults on the autism spectrum.

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Efforts to increase awareness and understanding are being boosted by two new characters with autism in popular children’s TV and film series. Sesame Street recently announced a new Muppet named Julia who is on the autism spectrum, the first new character in many years. Julia is a 4-year-old with bright orange hair who often repeats what she hears others say and loves art.

Autism is a complex developmental disorder that can cause problems with thinking, feeling, language and the ability to relate to others. It affects an estimated one in 68 children in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Learn about autism spectrum disorder, including symptoms, risk factors and treatment options.

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Julia started last year as a character in Sesame's books and digital offerings as part of a Sesame Street campaign called See Amazing in All Children. The program was developed with input from parents, people with autism and people who serve people the autism community. More than a dozen autism advocacy and education groups were consulted in the development of the character. It aims to give children with autism and their families someone to identify with and to help raise awareness and understanding among others. The positive response to this effort lead to including Julie in the on-air TV series.

Julia will be introduced on “Sesame Street” April 10 on PBS Kids and HBO.

Stacy Gordon, an experienced puppeteer and mother to a son with autism, plays the part of Julia.

The new “Power Rangers” feature film, just out in March, also introduces a new character with autism, Billy the Blue Ranger. Billy is played by RJ Cyler. The Power Rangers film also features an openly-gay hero.

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