Puppeteer and Phoenix mom Stacey Gordon landed the role of Julia, “Sesame Street’s” first autistic character.
But even if the role went to someone else, the mom told azcentral.com that “the character would mean the world to me.”
Gordon is the mother of an 13-year-old son on the autism spectrum.
“She’s important, and it’s important to me that I treat her with reverence, with respect and with reality,” she told azcentral.com reporter Kerry Lengel. “She needs authenticity, and I have so much respect for “Sesame Street” for seeking out a puppeteer who has experience with autism, because as a mom in the autism community, I want to see characters represented in a realistic way.”
Gordon’s first job was working with special-needs kids for Phoenix’s HOPE Group, which provides behavioral health services for people with autism spectrum disorder. When her own son was born in 2003 and later diagnosed with autism, Gordon knew the signs. She also knew that that portraying Julia wouldn’t be representative of every child with autism.
“Julia can’t represent everyone on the autism spectrum. Julia represents Julia on the autism spectrum, and hopefully Julia represents inclusion for everyone.
“I want autism destigmatized.”
“I want kids who are neurotypical to have a better understanding as they go into their classrooms, their preschools, their playgrounds, if they see behaviors that could be associated with autism or even just behaviors that they don’t understand, that they aren’t afraid,” she added.
Read more of Stacey Gordon’s story here.