When Big Bird walks over to introduce himself to Julia, a new Muppet with autism, he gets offended when she doesn’t respond right away.
Then a surprising thing happens. Without dwelling on her autism, the characters normalize the situation, explaining that she’s a kid who happens to process things a little differently.
I spent the first eight or so years of my life oblivious of my autism label. My parents broke the news to me in fourth grade. And when they told me, I started crying.
I remember feeling ashamed. I wanted to distance myself from my diagnosis because I didn’t want to be any different from my peers.
These days, it’s not like I walk around with a neon sign proclaiming that I have Asperger’s, but for practical reasons, I do have to talk about it. Like getting accommodations on tests at school.
Sesame Street’s Julia isn’t going to change much for me, but she does something better by helping the next generation of teachers, kids, and parents, understand what it means to live on the autistic spectrum.