Sesame Street's new character helps my autistic son gain acceptance

Sesame Street's new character helps my autistic son gain acceptance

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Sesame Street's new character helps my autistic son gain acceptance

All we want for our son is that he is accepted.

That he’s treated as an equal and not as a charity case. Not as someone to be pitied. Not as someone who is broken or burdensome.

We want him to be loved and valued for the incredible little kid that he is.

Those are the underlying concern for us as we raise our son, who is autistic.

Raising kids who have autism

We will do our part to empower him to stand up for himself in terms of inclusion and acceptance.

How society at large and his local community interact with and treat him is something we have zero control over. It’s frightening.

So you’ll have to excuse me while I cry for a few moments this morning at the news that “Sesame Street,” the iconic children’s show for several generations, has officially introduced its first autistic character.

Her name is Julia. That the character is a little girl adds crazy importance because we know girls and women are historically underdiagnosed.

This is more gratifying than I think any parent can explain. Yes, there are many questions that still need to be answered.

Big step, and questions

How does a puppeteer act “autistic”? Will Julia eventually just be one of the kids and not a springboard for a discussion about why she acts differently?

Those answers will come in time, and I trust “Sesame Street” completely to walk that treacherous line between inclusion and gimmick.

For now, I’m going to sit here with my son while he plays Minecraft and be happy that an American institution is helping families like ours spread the gospel of acceptance.

 

Louie Villalobos is a parenting blogger and digital producer for azcentral. You can follow him on Twitter @louievillalobos and find his podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Just search for “I am your father.”

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