Many people have pointed out that the show realistically presents Julia’s difficulties (she gets upset upon hearing loud noises and has trouble engaging with other characters) as well as her strengths (she is a good artist). But if the aim were to present viewers with a typical autistic kid, why did they choose to make the character a girl?Boys, after all, are between four and five times more likely to be diagnosed with autism as girls are.
Scientists are not entirely certain why this is the case. Some speculate that the causes might be genetic. Marjorie Solomon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California Davis MIND Institute explained, “The basic thought is that girls have less vasopressin and higher natural oxytocin . . . And oxytocin is a social hormone, so that would be protective.” Vasopressin in animals is linked to aggressive defense of territory and mates.Regardless, if you were going to present children with the autistic kid they are most likely to encounter, it would be a boy.
Even the puppeteer who plays Julia has a son who is autistic. It’s not that there are no girls who suffer from autism, of course, but being “on the spectrum” is a burden that is borne most heavily by boys in our society.
Diversity trumps reality.