"He can do anything," said his mother, Sabina Berretta of Lexington, Mass. "The only thing he can't do is the monkey bars."
But as a child, he struggled with fitting in socially, and Berretta, a Boston psychiatrist, acknowledged, "We are scared about what we don't know."
"Despite our efforts to protect Giuliano, he has been, and still is, the object of blunt, hurtful, comments from young children," said Berretta, who practices at McLean Hospital in Boston. "They have stared at him, yelled out loud. 'Hey! Look! This kid is weird! He does not have a hand.' They threw sand at him because he is a 'monster,' grabbed his arm to look at it without asking and refused to be in the same room because he is 'scary.'"
But, she said, children were were openly told about Giuliano's condition and were able to ask questions, quickly forgot their differences.
Giuliano said he wished there were more television hosts like BBC's Burnell, who might teach children about differences rather than sending a negative message like, "Oh they look different and can't do what we can do. They're really bad and scary.
"I understand people are curious," he said. "But if they can look at it on TV, then they won't stare when they see someone on the street. It makes it a lot easier for us. Some of us have blue eyes, some have green; some have black hair, some are blond; some have two arms and some of us have one."
Actress Bahar Soomekh was horrified when she learned of the criticism fired at Burnell. Her 3-year-old son, Ezra, was born with a malformed leg and one functioning finger. In order for the boy to have a better functioning prosthetic leg, doctors amputated the limb below the knee. They also transplanted the big toe to make a thumb, so he could utilize his left hand.
"The irony is I did the Academy-award winning 'Crash,' [a movie] about prejudices, and here it's happening at home for me," said the 33-year-old actress, who also appeared in "Mission Impossible III" and "Syriana." "I had to deal with it on the playground and at school every day. The beauty is that I have never hidden my son's legs. He wears shorts."
Ezra, who got his prosthetic leg at 10 months, was walking by 11 months -- way ahead of most of his peers -- and now plays soccer and basketball.
Soomekh undertands the power of role models like Burnell. When the television show, "Barney," had a girl without a hand, Ezra was delighted.
"It meant the world to my son," she said. "It was the most extraordinary thing. When school started the kids said Ezra's hand look the girl on Barney. It's all about familiarity."
Filmmaker Maggie Doben agrees. Her 2008 documentary, "Labeled Disabled" explores how to help children understand physical disabilities. She said Burnell should have introduced herself to her young viewers.
"If she had held up her arm and said, 'You probably have noticed that I have one hand and this is how come," Doben told ABCNews.com. "Within 45 seconds, kids would have moved on."
"Kids have a lot of questions and when they are answered honestly, that's all they need," she said. "When they are left mysterious, that make up answers on their own and that's what is scary."
As for Burnell, Soomekh said parents can help their children by applauding her talent. "Look at how amazing she is. She can hold a book and turn the pages without a hand."