Sesame Street has created Julia, a muppet who has autism. It’s wonderful that a programme so involved with early years children is raising this issue. Interesting that they’ve gone with a girl as far fewer girls are diagnosed. However, I’ve read a number of times that girls’ social drives cause them to learn to blend in better so that their autistic traits are not noticed as often as with boys. Who knows how many girls go undiagnosed as a result and who knows if Julia may prompt a parent to seek diagnosis and support for their daughter as a result? In any event, this is a positive and welcome move that will teach children from an early age how autistic children act and how to relate to them. It will teach their parents too; my son’s school friends were accepting and caring right from the start and if anything it was the looks from other parents that were the problem. I’m sure many parents of autistic children will have similar stories of the looks and tutting from other parents who assume you are a lazy or weak parent who cannot discipline a badly behaved child. I’ve been accused of that only last year by a stranger who didn’t like my son not responding to him when he said something to Tom. He had absolutely no knowledge of me or my son but felt qualified to judge my parenting skills from a ten second meeting. Yep, people are that precious and self-important.
Well done, Sesame Street. Building awareness and educating people is a slow and ongoing process and it’s great to see such a big name getting involved.