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New Sesame Street character helps families understand autism

SANDY, Utah -- Raising a child on the autism spectrum is hard. Raising identical twins, both on the spectrum, is even harder.

"It might look different for us than other families but sometimes, you know we're just trying to do things as a family and that's big for us,” said Holly Vick.

Holly and her husband Jason live in Sandy with their five kids, ranging from seventeen-years-old to eight. Gavin and Brody, their youngest are identical twins. Both are autistic.

"You shouldn't know what to expect because even the parents of autistic kids don't know what to expect,” said Jason.

Other people who meet the Vicks may not know what to expect either but that could start to change, in part, due to a popular kids TV show. Sesame Street is adding a new character named Julie, a red-haired Muppet with Autism. Her puppeteer is the mother of an autistic son and plans to use her own experiences on the show.

"The thing Sesame Street has done so great over the years is to show the differences of all of us,” said Jason. He hopes the new character will help teach new lessons to parents, kids and anyone else who may one day interact with his sons, Gavin and Brody.

"They can learn through Sesame Street, they're different but so am I and that what makes us all great is our differences,” said Jason.

The Vick’s are not alone in raising a child on the autism spectrum. One in fifty-eight kids in Utah have been diagnosed as being on the spectrum by the age of eight. Every autistic kid is different, with different struggles. It makes building understanding difficult for people who are not working with or raising autistic children.

"People will understand that this is what they have and this is what they're going through and this is hard,” said Julia of her hopes for what the new character may show.