WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Sesame Street is reaching out to autistic children with a new Muppet character named Julia.

She is part of a new initiative from Sesame Street Workshop aimed a reducing “the stigma of autism.”

“Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt told People Magazine. “And with one in 68 children having autism, that’s a lot of bullying. 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.”

Julia will tell her stories in a series of online videos and interactive games. They are aimed at families with autistic children between the ages of 2 and 5.

“This is what makes our project so unique,” said Betancourt. “When we explain from a child’s point of view that there are certain behaviors, such as slapping their hands or making noises, to express excitement or unhappiness, it helps younger children to understand how to interact with their autistic peers. It makes children more comfortable and therefore more inclusive.”

The creators say families with autistic children gravitate towards digital content, and that’s why the stories are being posted online. There’s also a mobile app parents can download.

“We are trying to spread the story about the theory behind this whole thing: love and acceptance,” explained. Betencourt. “Everyone is touched by autism, and by creating Julia, Sesame is bringing children together.”

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