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Parent Map interviewed Wendy Stone about her creation of Julia, the child with autism, on Sesame Street.

The Woman Behind Sesame Street's Newest Star

Here's someone you should know: Wendy Stone, Ph.D.

BY NANCY SCHATZ ALTON, September 29, 2017

Autism expert Wendy Stone, Ph.D., never thought she’d end up on Sesame Street . She’s one of the experts behind the creation of Julia, the iconic show’s newest character and its first with autism.

“I’ve gotten more attention for Julia than anything I’ve done,” says Stone, professor of psychology and director of the READi (Research in Early Autism Detection and Intervention) Lab at the University of Washington .

In 2008,Sesame Street ’s parent company, Sesame Workshop, asked Stone and colleague Evon Lee to share everything they knew about autism. Thus began a partnership that has created a vast array of educational outreach materials for teachers, parents and families of children with autism.

There are also videos for kids as well as daily routine cards, online storybooks and videos for parents. But it was the April debut of Julia that brought worldwide attention to the woman who works in a tiny corner office overlooking the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

What were the trickiest parts of creating a Muppet with autism?

There’s a saying in the autism world: “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.” When [Sesame Workshop ] first asked our opinion, I didn’t think creating a Muppet with autism was a great idea. We didn’t want to create this reified image that defines autism. But if anybody can do it well, it’s Sesame Street !

Read the entire interview here .