"Sesame Street" has added a new character to its long list of fictional friends, and she is on the autism spectrum.
The muppet, Julia, was introduced in conjunction with the show's new initiative, "Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children."
We are trying to spread the story about the theory behind this whole thing – love and acceptance. Everyone is touched by autism, and by creating Julia, 'Sesame' is bringing children together.
Whether you have a child with autism, know someone, or simply want to learn more, check out https://t.co/DxSa7WX9lW. pic.twitter.com/LO4IiSzjF8 — Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) October 21, 2015
The program also seeks to help educate viewers, both children and adults, on how to best communicate with children affected by autism.
Alongside the online platform is a free downloadable app featuring interactive story cards, intended to educate children with autism on how to go about daily routine tasks, like washing hands, going to a restaurant or crossing the street, with ease.
This initiative is evidence of the increasing awareness of autism and the push to better understand its diverse meaning.
There is hope the program, and others like it, will encourage communication and continue to build a more supportive community for those affected by autism spectrum disorder.
Dr. Betancourt told PEOPLE,
Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences. Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group.
"Sesame Street" offers a range of resources on its page dedicated to the program including learning tools, tips for parents and stories told from the point of view of autistic children.
You can join in on the campaign via social media using the hashtag, #SeeAmazing.
Join us to celebrate the uniqueness of every child with our new Amazing Song! https://t.co/6cwnY10Csn #SeeAmazing pic.twitter.com/WgumpjwGTt — Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) October 21, 2015
Citations: Meet Sesame Street's First Character with Autism: 'We Want to Create Greater Awareness and Empathy' (PEOPLE), Sesame Street's new muppet, Julia, has autism (Autism Speaks), Sesame Street and Autism (Sesame Street)