Autism has a new face, advocate in 'Sesame Street' character

Julia, Sesame Street's new autistic Muppet. (Photo credit: Zach Hyman / Sesame Workshop)

Nicholas Hemachandra, 16, successfully juggles being on the autism spectrum and attending high school.

"When you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism," said Nicholas' dad, Ray Hemachandra. "Everyone profiles differently."

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"People seem to have this view that folks with autism may be trapped in this body and they don't appreciate them as individuals who have a desire to make friends," Mission Psychologist and Autism Specialsit Steve Love, PhD, added.

Sesame Street's newest Muppet, Julia, is a 4-year-old with autism who interacts with others in the neighborhood.

In a video release from Sesame Workshop, Abby Cadabby and Julia know the same song and find a common point singing it.

"It promotes the idea of inclusion and neuro-diversity at the youngest ages," Ray said. "Hopefully, then, they carry that forward through childhood and into adulthood."

Experts say Julia has potential to not only raise autism awareness and acceptance, but also reduce bullying while promoting success.

"I would like to go to college!" Nicholas said.

Exactly where he'll go is still up in the air.

Julia's Sesame Street debut is on Monday, April 10, on PBS and HBO.

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