EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- An addition to a popular kids television show is shedding light on a condition that impacts three million people every year.
Wednesday morning, the Sesame Street gang introduced Julia. Julia is the first-ever character with autism. She was introduced to help provide a safe and educational space for children with autism, as well as for their family and friends.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1 in 68 children in the U.S. is identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Julia's character is not only to increase understanding about autism among children, but also demonstrate the commonalities of all children.
“I feel like exposing children to differences at a young age will help them become more accepting and won't look at it as such a difference and as part of the norm,” said mother of two Brooke Christianson.
Mayo Clinic Health System Pediatric in Adolescent Medicine Gregg Kishaba, M.D., said Julia’s character could be more than just a starting point for kids to learn about autism.
“I think it's a really good thing, and then maybe even a step further would be to recognize it, and maybe go out on a limb and say this is a kid, who because he or she has difficulties or deficits in social communication, social interaction, they are an outcast, so not only to recognize they're different, but maybe go out on a limb and try to be their friend,” said Dr. Kishaba.
Reports show children with autism are often bullied five times more than children without.
“As far as bullying and how much that is, is a big problem,” mother Pam Hanafin said. “I think having that out there and to be more familiarized with that; just like kids that are in wheelchairs, you know autism, I mean, and kids with ADHD, all of the differences, I think it’s important to have on there.”
To keep the conversation going, Sesame Street is using #seeamazing on social media sites.
“If people are aware of it and kids are aware of it, and see that on Sesame Street, especially Sesame Street, they're going to think that's okay,” Hanafin said.
Julia's character was introduced with part of Sesame Street’s See Amazing in All Children initiative, to help children understand “we're all different, but the same.