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Phoenix group praises new autistic ‘Sesame Street’ character

The newest "Sesame Street" character, Julia, is shown. (Sesame Workshop Photo)

PHOENIX — The addition of an autistic character to the popular children’s program “Sesame Street” is getting high praise from a Phoenix group.

“It’s a fantastic thing for autism for ‘Sesame Street’ to make such an effort to show other kids that kids with autism are basically just kids,” Dr. Christopher Smith with the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center said.

Smith said the new character, Julia, will help break down barriers for autistic children.

“I think it takes away some of the fear, some of the mystery, some of things that people are really concerned about with children with autism,” he said.

Julia’s introduction is part of an initiative to take the stigma out of autism. The initiative also is aimed at helping those who deal with the developmental disorder. She will be included in digital and printed story books featuring Sesame Workshop characters, including Elmo and Abby.

She will be portrayed as a girl who “does things a little differently” when playing with her Muppet friends, the workshop said.

The new initiative, called “See Amazing in All Children,” will provide educational resources about autism to teachers and others. It also will offer tools for handling everyday activities to families touched by it.

KTAR’s Lauren Grifo and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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