April Post 8: Meet Julia 

This is a reaction post: I must admit I haven’t seen Sesame Street in a long time.  

10:32 – Julia is not taking greeting very well. She seems to be rubbing Big Bird a little wrong.

10:33 – They’re explaining Julia’s autism to Big Bird in very simple terms.

“Play, play, play!” Is her first real line. She’s very sweet.

10:35 – Uh-oh – sirens. She’s holding her ears. A little insight: it’s apparent to Julia that sirens are much louder to her. It’s common for an autistic person to experience things more or less.

10:38 – Big Bird is getting that people are different from each other. Elmo seems to get Julia a little more, as does Abby.

10:40 – They’re singing about differences, and friendship.

10:42 – They’ve changed things a bit. Now they introduce the Letter of the Day with a song. Cool. By the way, its “F” for Friendship.

10:43 – Boy, this is FAST. We’re now in a segment about friendship. I’ve forgotten how quickly the child’s brain processes information – at least with Sesame Street.

10:45 – “Hey, come play with me” is a great song.

10:46 – Now were learning how to take turns with the Two Headed Monster.

10:47 – How Many Cookies Today? 2!

10:48 – Now Elmo and Abby are learning to count to 2.

10:49 – A song about 2!

10:50 – Whew! I have to go FAST.

10:51 – Now we’ve got Smarty the Smartphone. And we’re talking about friends. (I’m sensing a theme here.)  Now they’re playing Tic Tac Toe.

10:54 – A man and dog teaching how to play with a friend.

10:55 – Elmo is doing the Happy Dance Dance. 🙂

10:56 – Big Bird and Julia are now good friends. Goodbye NOW?! (That’s OK. It only lasts for a half hour.)

10:58 – Roll Credits – with a song!

I’m happy Julia has made the jump to TV Sesame Street. If Julia or some type of autistic child had been around Sesame Street as a kid, maybe I would have been more accepted instead of teased for being a crybaby. (To be honest, I’m getting jealous of autistic kids today. They’re having opportunities for love and acceptance I never did.)  

I guess you have to start the acceptance and friendship with different people REALLY young. Hopefully, they’ll get the message one day.

I haven’t got the skills to detect if Julia is stereotypical or just right at the moment; I’ll make a more informed decision soon.

So Julia is Making the Leap to TV Sesame Street…. 

….but not until next month. Perhaps us autistic adults can give some insights and gentle correction to upcoming mistakes I’m sure Sesame Street will make with Julia.

If you don’t know, Julia is an autistic Muppet being introduced to Sesame Street. So far, that is her major trait. Hopefully, her autism will not separate her too much from the other characters. It seems to look promising, since they are reportedly welcoming her into the fold. I’m a little concerned, though, on how Julia will be portrayed. Will her autism be her defining trait, as it often is of many shows’ neurotypical writing? Will she be looked on as less in neurotypical eyes?

The best-case scenario is as regular people who are just a little different. Let her participate in adventures. Let her experience life in groups. Give her some interests. Have her appear often and  Flesh out her character. Autism is not the only thing unique about Julia, if you do it right.

There are many well-intentioned disabled or neurodivergent characters who fall flat, and even a few in unexpected places who would actually do well in reality. Of course, I think the key to a good portrayal in neurodiversity or disability (which are often treated the same by a conformist society) is a good dose of reality, inclusion and fleshing out. So many autistic characters are stymied by stereotypes that it really is tragic that one must fit this stereotype to even get an autism diagnosis. I prefer that Julia be a recurring character, at least, so she could have some time to flesh out. Good characters get time to flesh out over a series, but most characters with differing traits rarely get anything beyond their introduction and defining trait. Hopefully, we can see a development over time.

What I am trying to say is, please, don’t make Julia a one-shot. Make her a realistic child. Listen to us autistic adults. We can give you some insight.

Hating on a Muppet

Julia, the autistic character from Sesame Street

I’ve been looking over this new Sesame Street character, Julia, and know she has autism. She carries some of the traits of autism, including sensory issues and social troubles. What I have also come across is the strange stance that there is a giant conspiracy afoot, apparently to hide the “vaccine injury” (I am NOT making this up) known as Autism. Oh, there’s a conspiracy alright. The conspiracy is to save the people from dying from Infantile Paralysis, Measles, Mumps and Rubella. The anti-vaccine people say that Sesame Street in general, and Julia in particular, are puppets of Big Pharma, and are trying to get this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing known as Autism “normalized” into the public. The anti-vaccine lobby is extremely ableist, which means they will hate any effort to bring acceptance to people with so-called “vaccine injuries,” including those with disabilities. Their aim is to cure people of the Autism Tragedy, which cannot possibly have any positive effect. (Even though Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah and Temple Grandin are all wonderful individuals due to their Autism, hmmm?)

First, of all, let me say that much of anti-vaccine agenda is based on false and misleading data. You can Google any source and defend both sides of this vaccine issue, but let me tell you that most of the anti-vaccine lobby boils down to two people: Andrew Wakefield and the Ableist, Emotional Parent. Andrew Wakefield produced one study, whose results were not duplicated, and which was retracted by Wakefield himself, admittedly corrupted, motivated by his own vaccine patent, and who finally got his license revoked. The Ableist, Emotional Parent usually believes that vaccines cause autism because they happen at about the same age. My example of this, Jenny McCarthy, noted that after her son got a certain vaccine, he had a certain look in his eyes, saying “no soul.” Let me give you a note: saying an autistic look means “no soul” is extremely prejudiced. Do I have no soul? Also, to note, the story with Ms. McCarthy is very emotional, so it seems rational in her own eyes…and she talks frequently about the “motherly instinct,” especially when it counters established scientific theory. My question to Ms. McCarthy is: Have you never been wrong? Are you omniscient when it comes to your son? Now, I doubt she knows absolutely everything. But she acts as though she is wise in her own eyes, which is to me a very dangerous thing, especially since she seems to regard autism as worse than the “f***ing measles,” as she once said the autism parents would rather have.

Of course, regarding autism worse than measles is blatant ableism. Ableism is rife within the anti-vaccine lobby, which is why they consider autism a boogeyman to fear and fight. Have you heard of anyone lauded by Autism Speaks as a positive influence? Does Autism Speaks tell you that Dr. Temple Grandin is a top authority in the beef cattle industry, particularly when it comes to leading them to where they are supposed to go? Do they even mention Dan Aykroyd, who has spoken about his particular flavor of autism, and his work in comedy and film? No, they simply say autism will destroy any semblance of a disability-free, and therefore model, life. Ableism is simply looking at anything that makes a person abledly different and counting it as a loss, or a strike against that person’s humanity. Ableism says that the autistic MUST be cured of their autism, or they are not a full human being. Ever.

Where does this leave poor Julia, and the autistic children that Julia can relate to, according to the Ableists? That leaves Julia and autistics alike in a sort of invisible no-man’s land, in a place where the only appropriate response is pity and shame. Of course, that will eventually lead to locking them away in jails, prisons and other institutions, where the poor, pitiful things belong, according to the ableists. Of course, it also romanticizes the murders of autistic children, too, and encourages them to suicide, I’m sure. The truth is, the anti-vaccine lobby hates autistic people succeeding, because it has chosen to hate autistic people. I have decided to applaud Sesame Street’s little creation, Julia. It comforts me to see that there is someone like me on the screen, despite the fact that the anti-vaccine lobby hates her, and me in extension.