PARENTS

'Sesame Street' Unveils Julia, Character With Autism

10/21/2015 04:52 EDT | Updated 10/22/2015 07:59 EDT

Leave it to "Sesame Street" to promote better understanding of autism among kids and adults alike.

The popular children's show released "We're Amazing 1, 2, 3!" on Wednesday. This online storybook is aimed at building awareness of the condition that affects an estimated one per cent of the world population.

The storybook introduces readers to Julia, a friend of Elmo's with whom he has played since they were very young. It shows them playing with blocks, trucks and on the playground, where they meet popular character Abby Cadabby.

Abby tries to introduce herself to Julia, but she doesn't respond right away. Elmo tells her that Julia has autism, and she doesn't communicate the way others might. So he coaches Abby on how to talk to her, and gradually, they become friends, too.

Autism can manifest itself in various ways. Symptoms among children include delays in adopting interactive ability such as pointing and waving, according to Autism Speaks Canada. People with autism can also have difficulty processing sensory information, such as sounds, tastes and smells.

The storybook was released as part of an initiative titled, "Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children," which is intended to help people see kids' "unique qualities and talents that make the world an interesting place."

Writing on the initiative's website, author Leslie Kimmelman said she wrote the storybook after her son was diagnosed with autism two decades ago.

"What's the most important thing for people to know? We're all different in some way or another — that's what makes the world an interesting place," she wrote. "And equally, all of us in our own way are amazing!"

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