Teen With Autism Says 'The Muppets' Already Had a Character on the Spectrum
When the news broke that “Sesame Street” was introducing Julia, the show’s first character with autism, it sparked important conversations among both families and advocates.
While educating children about autism and acceptance is a huge step forward, one family doesn’t seem to think it’s that big of a deal. Blogger Jennie Baird wrote an article for the New York Times explaining that her 14-year-old son, who has autism, says “The Muppets” already had a character on the spectrum: Fozzie Bear.
In Baird’s post, she writes:
I had never thought of Fozzie that way, but my son had a point. Fozzie is not good at taking social cues; he doesn’t read a room well and he tends to monologue and perseverate (to repeat himself long after the need has passed). He interprets figurative language as literal — remember that fork in the road in “The Muppet Movie?” He has a verbal tic he falls back on, “wokka-wokka.” And he hates to be separated from his hat for no obvious reason.
‘Autistic’ may not be the first descriptor that comes to mind when you think of Fozzie Bear. You would probably describe him as funny, loyal, lovable and tenacious before you would describe him as autistic. And that is exactly what children want, whether they are on the spectrum or not. When labels can serve children without defining them, they leave room for every child, and every Muppet, to be exactly who they are.”
Baird added that she discussed this with other families with kids on the spectrum, and they revealed that the exact same conversation took place in their household.
So here’s a question for our Mighty readers: Are there any other children’s television programs you think have characters on the autism spectrum?