Two years ago, Sesame Street unveiled Julia, a four-year old muppet with autism. Julia has played an integral role in the cast by showing how her daily activities work a little differently than those of her friends, such as teaching kids how to hug someone on the spectrum. Now she is a part of Sesame Street’s newest awareness campaign to help parents learn symptoms of autism and to promote early screenings and diagnosis.

According to a recent Ad Council and Autism Speaks survey, autism can be reliably diagnosed by the age of 2, but most children aren’t diagnosed until between 4 and 5 years old.

Through the partnership between the Ad Council, Autism Speaks and Sesame Workshop, two ads were created that show Julia using tools to help her better communicate with her friends and family. The English and Spanish-language ads, which will be airing nationwide on TV and digitally, are part of Sesame Street’s autism initiative to “See Amazing in All Children.”

In one ad, Julia uses a tablet to tell her dad that she wants to play catch with her dog to demonstrate how children on the spectrum may have delayed speech. “With Julia’s autism, using a talker can help her find the words she wants to say,” her dad tells viewers.

In another teaching moment, Julia is seen putting on noise-reducing headphones to play instruments with her friends to show how individuals with autism may be more sensitive to loud noises.

“Receiving an autism diagnosis is just the first step in creating a better future for a child on the spectrum, and there are multiple benefits to getting that early diagnosis,” said Autism Speaks President and CEO Angela Geiger. “Research shows that early intervention can have a positive impact in so many ways, and we are dedicated to helping parents learn the signs and feel empowered to help their children lead their best lives.”

With support from the ad agencies BBDO and Dieste, the bilingual videos show Julia taking on her everyday life in a unique way. Her adventures show that the more her family and friends understand and support her world, the more she reaches her full potential.

To learn more about early screening for autism, visit ScreenForAutism.org.

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