Local autism community says new "Sesame Street" Muppet with autism will break barriers

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GREEN BAY, Wisc. (WBAY) -- Someone new has moved onto Sesame Street.

Julia, a Muppet with autism, is making her TV debut on the beloved children's show next month.

She's "Sesame Street's" newest neighbor and her autism diagnosis affects her communication and social skills and causes some abnormal behavioral interests.

"She is a fun-loving girl. She is seen laughing a lot," Tyler Krueger, clinical director at Centerpiece Autism Services in Howard, said.

Julia will appear on TV screens across the country beginning April 10, but is already getting an overwhelmingly positive response.

"I think it's great to have representation from all different types of kids and to demonstrate inclusion," Kristina Shelton, a mom in Green Bay, said.

"It's definitely awesome to show kids diversity that they're going to see in the real world," said Green Bay resident Chris Jenquin, who grew up watching "Sesame Street."

"That is one of my favorite things about "Sesame Street" is that they're so inclusive of showing kids of all shapes, sizes, types, everything," Lindsay Dorff, a Green Bay mom, said.

Members of the autism community said having a character like Julia appear across TV screens won't just help families who may not be as familiar with autism, but those affected by it, as well.

"Those are the people that I think it's really going to help," Krueger said. "It's going to help them figure out a way to start a conversation."

One in 68 kids in the U.S. has autism. Most are boys.

Centerpiece Autism Services sees about 50 kids and only four are girls.

They were a bit surprised, but happy, "Sesame Street" chose Julia to help kids and parents understand and accept autism.

"Any time that they can take on this pro-social approach to a topic that's a little tough to talk about, especially with young kids, it's going to be extremely positive for everyone involved," said Krueger.

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