'Sesame Street' introduces Julia, their first-ever character with autism


It's an extra-sunny day on "Sesame Street."

The long-running children's program announced that muppet Julia will become its first-ever character with autism. She will officially join the cast full-time in April.

A Sunday 60 Minutes segment shows the behind-the-scenes process of building Julia in the famous Jim Henson Workshop. She was initially introduced in 2015 as an animated character, but she'll now join Elmo and the rest of the puppet gang.

Julia is brought to life by puppeteer Stacey Gordon, who is a mother of a child with autism. Initially doubtful that Julia would be developed beyond her original animated state, she thought, "It's so far out there, it's never going to happen," she said.

On Julia's first episode, the Sesame Street crew will try to welcome Julia with handshakes, which she rebuffs. They'll realize in time that her resistance isn't impolite, but instead an autistic trait -- and in turn, they'll learn more effective ways to communicate.

Another scene shows Julia and fellow muppet Abby finding a mutually enjoyable activity. Julia speaks and acts a little differently than Abby, but they figure out how to have a great time anyway.

See photos of Sesame Street through the years: