Just in time for National Autism Awareness month, "Sesame Street" is adding a new autistic Muppet character, debuting Monday, April 10 on PBS and HBO.

In addition, Utah's PBS station, KUED, will be airing a documentary on autism in Utah titled "On the Spectrum" on Monday, April 17 at 8:30 p.m.

"Sesame Street" will be introducing the character of Julia in an effort to reduce the stigma of autism, according to an article by USA Today from October when the character was first announced.

"Children with autism are five times more likely to get bullied," said Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president of community and family engagement at Sesame Workshop, in the article. "And with one in 68 children having autism, that's a lot of bullying. Our goal is to bring forth what all children share in common, not their differences. Children with autism share in the joy of playing and loving and being friends and being part of a group."

Elise Peterson, the education coordinator at KUED, said though "Sesame Street" is not the only program on PBS Kids to include an autistic character, it is the first time that a character like Julia will have a long-standing role. She said during the month of April, the new 24/7 PBS Kids channel will be airing episodes of "Arthur," "Dinosaur Train" and "Thomas and Friends" that focus on autism as well.

In addition to television programs, Peterson said "Sesame Street" is providing other resources on autism.sesamestreet.org to help educate children and families about autism. There are videos for parents and kids, a storybook about Julia and her friends, and daily routine cards.

Peterson said she especially likes the daily routine cards, which help kids with autism work toward a specific goal or task, such as trying new foods or going to a restaurant.

"You can prepare your children ahead of time to tackle these goals step by step," she said in an interview with the Deseret News. "You can introduce (the goal) before you try it, and then when you complete one of these routines, you get a little award at the end."

In addition to sharing these PBS provided resources, KUED is also airing "On the Spectrum" this month, which is focused on autism in Utah specifically. Producer Paige Keiter Sparks said her main goal with the documentary is to increase awareness and acceptance.

When her cousin's son was diagnosed with autism, Sparks realized she didn't know much about it and started to do some research. She was surprised to see that Utah has the second highest incidence of autism spectrum disorder in the United States. These statistics along with her personal experience inspired her to create a documentary about autism in Utah.

"On the Spectrum" features two Utah families that have children with autism, as well as a local adult with autism. It also brings in experts to discuss the options for treatment and funding for autistic children in Utah. Both the families and experts talk about the legal issues facing Utah families with autistic children, including getting insurance coverage and maintaining guardianship after the child turns 18.

Sparks said in an interview that one of her motivations for making "On the Spectrum" was to show children with autism that they can have goals and dreams. She made sure to show adults with autism in the film who were successful in having careers and active social lives.

"There's a lot of kids on the spectrum who feel like they don't have any future or they have no aspirations for jobs or any sort of goals that they should set for themselves because their self-esteem is so low," Sparks said. "I wanted to make sure that this film showcased some of those really great elements — that there is hope and that this isn't something that if you're diagnosed you're just going to be bound to living in your parents' basement doing arts and crafts all day. You can contribute to society. You do have a future."

She said she also wants these kids to understand from the film that they can embrace who they are.

"I want them to feel like they don't need to be ashamed because they're different. It's cool to be different," Sparks said.