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'Sesame Street' to welcome muppet character with autism

Julia (center) first appeared online and in printed materials as a part of Sesame Street's See Amazing in all Children initiative. She'll now appear on TV as well. From left, Elmo, Alan Muraoka, Julia, Abby Cadabby and Big Bird. Zach Hyman/Sesame Workshop

LOS ANGELES - "Sesame Street" will welcome a new Muppet to its TV family on April 10 with a special episode designed to introduce viewers to four-year-old Julia, a character with autism.

The "Meet Julia" episode will premiere simultaneously on HBO and PBS Kids. The long-running PBS franchise shifted to HBO for first-run airings early last year, with episodes repeating on PBS a few months later.

The Julia character has been featured in "Sesame Street"-branded digital content since last year. The on-air introduction of Julia is part of a five-year research effort dubbed "See Amazing in All Children" by producer Sesame Workshop to address the neurological condition that affects an estimated one out of every 68 children.

"Bringing Julia to life as a Sesame Street Muppet is the centerpiece of all of our new materials to support families of children with autism," said Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop's exec VP of global impact and philanthropy. "The response from the autism community to 'See Amazing in All Children' has been extraordinary, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, as part of our mission of helping all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder."

Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior VP of U.S. social impact, said families of children with autism have asked the show to address the issue for years now.

"We heard a call to use our expertise and characters to build a bridge between the autism and neurotypical communities," Betancourt said. "So many partners, advisors, and organizations have contributed to the success of this initiative, and we are thrilled to have the benefit of this collaboration as we launch this latest chapter.

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