Sesame Street episode with Julia and Elmo singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"

When My Son on the Autism Spectrum Told Me What He Thought of Sesame Street’s Julia


When the “60 Minutes” segment about Julia, Sesame Street’s new autistic muppet character, aired, within minutes my Facebook feed was filled with stories about it, and my phone started pinging with text messages.

One of the stories included a link to the online video of the segment, which I turned on and my son came to stand next to me as I watched it.

I liked what I saw of Julia, such as not responding when other characters addressed her, and flapping her arms when she was excited.

I believe the introduction of this character and these behaviors was an important step to help normalize autism for other children, so that when they saw similar actions from their classmates, they could better understand and accept behavior that might be otherwise confusing to them.

While Julia’s autism expression was different than how my son expresses his autism, it was still valuable for informing people who didn’t know anything about it.

My son liked it, too, saying he thought Julia did a good job showing what autism can look like.

But then things started to go downhill.

Almost immediately there was a sharp increase in stimming. He stopped responding to us as we tried to get him ready for bed, and resisted every step of his bedtime routine.

Sometimes if something happened during the day, like a bad encounter with another player on a game server or a problem he did not know how to solve, for example, his frustration and anxiety can come out at bedtime.

If I am patient, he’s usually able to eventually articulate what was bothering him.

So I waited, and when he was able to converse with us again, I asked him what was going on.

“I don’t know,” he answered. I tried to think of what had happened over the day which might be emerging now. As I thought about it, I realized the behavior started shortly after we had watched the “60 Minutes” segment.

“Was there something about Julia that made you uncomfortable?” I asked him. He nodded, seeming to me like he was relieved we had figured it out.

“She reminded me of how different and weird I am,” he answered.

This one statement from my son demonstrated to me how well “Sesame Street” had pegged it with Julia.

My son feeling this way was exactly why Julia was needed. If his behavior was never treated as strange by others, he would never think that he was different or “weird.”

The fact that he was responding so strongly meant to me that Julia had successfully captured some recognizable essence of autism which my son felt, not just saw.

I don’t think he would have responded so strongly if she did not ring true for him.

We work closely with our son to teach him that every aspect of him, including his autism, is unique and wonderful. We are well-supported by a network of professionals who celebrate his strengths and work with him and his challenges in positive ways.

And yet he still feels like an outsider at times. Julia’s presence on “Sesame Street” could help with that feeling in other kids on the autism spectrum.

Will Julia solve this for all kids on the spectrum? Of course not. But I believe she is a great step in the right direction.

Editor’s note: This story has been published with permission from the author’s son.

Follow this journey on Autism Mom.

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Photo source: YouTube video




'Speechless With Carly Fleischmann' Is Back and Features James Van Der Beek


Carly Fleischmann took the internet by storm last April when she interviewed Channing Tatum on the debut episode of her talkshow, “Speechless With Carly Fleischmann.” Now, the talkshow host on the autism spectrum is back with a second episode featuring actor James Van Der Beek.

The 10-minute interview, which aired Wednesday on Fleischmann’s YouTube channel, shows Fleischmann interviewing Van Der Beek using a communication device. The two talk about Van Der Beek’s success as an actor, as well as his roles on “Dawson’s Creek” and “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.”

“It’s OK, to have challenges, It’s OK, to be supportive of people with challenges,” Fleischmann wrote on her Facebook page introducing the video. “And it is not all right to make fun of individuals with CHALLENGES because we all have them too.”

Fleischmann has become a major voice of autism awareness. She first gained notoriety when a video giving insight to how she processes the world went viral in 2012. It’s since been viewed millions of times and brought well-deserved attention to her book “Carly’s Voice.

“Speechless With Carly Fleischmann” will continue with monthly episodes. Next month’s episode features actress Beth Behrs, known for her role on “2 Broke Girls.”

You can watch the latest episode of “Speechless With Carly Fleischmann,” below. 


I Want Funding for Autism Resources -- Not for Finding a Cause


“Autism” a six-letter word that can change lives and affect so many people. Approximately one in 68 children are on the autism spectrum (and grow up to be autistic adults). Some people really want to find the cause for this. I respect that. But as an individual with autism, a young adult with autism, what I really want is acceptance.

I don’t want funding for support over finding a cause. Why, you may ask? Don’t I care about what causes my disability?

I want more of the money to go towards supporting those on the spectrum across our lifespans because while finding a cause can be important in helping us face challenges, I feel that we truly need to focus on the now, the present. How can we support individuals with autism and their families as they age? Are our needs being met? Do we have the services we need? Is funding and money being put towards that? Sometimes in life we have to prioritize, and in my mind, this is a priority.

Autism, a six-letter word many people are hearing daily. The diagnosis that can leave parents and individuals wondering, How will I do this? How will we do this? Will we get through this? Is there support available? How in the world will we pay for therapy? As individuals on the spectrum age, opportunities for funding become less and less, at least that is what I have experienced. Recently Ohio passed an autism insurance coverage mandate, which I think is great and a huge step for so many. But there is a limitation, an age cut off of 14 years old. What happens then? Who pays for the therapy then? What if the individual is making progress? I like to believe and live my life believing and showing that progress is indeed possible regardless of age.

Don’t give up. It may take a while for you to find the team you like and that meets your needs/the needs of your loved one. But in my experience, once you do that, you are taking a huge step in the right direction.

I’m so very grateful to have my village, my team — team Chloe, who is there to support me, love me, care for me, and help me learn. Autism has its challenges but with my team, lots of love and support, it’s easier. It may not solve everything, but it is a step in the right direction, at least for me, to know I am not in this alone.

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PBS KIDS to Air Autism-Related Episodes of Popular Children's Shows


To help promote autism awareness, acceptance and understanding, PBS Kids will be airing autism-themed episodes of several popular children’s shows throughout April, Autism Awareness Month.

Read the full version of PBS KIDS to Air Autism-Related Episodes of Popular Children’s Shows.

Read the full transcript:

These Popular Kids’ Shows Will Have Autism-related Episodes in April!

Starting April 10, Autism Awareness Month, PBS KIDS will air a lineup of autism-themed episodes.

These episodes will help promote autism awareness, acceptance and understanding.

The lineup begins with a new episode of “Sesame Street,” that introduces Julia, a muppet on the spectrum.

Episodes of “Dinosaur Train” and “Arthur” will also be featured.

April 10, Sesame Street “Meet Julia”

April 10, Dinosaur Train “Junior Conductors Academy”

April 10, Arthur “When Carl Met George/D.W. Swims With the Fishes”

April 11, Arthur “Pets and Pests/Go Fly a Kite”

April 12, Arthur “Carl’s Concerto/Too Much of a Good Thing”

April 13, Arthur “He Said, He Said/Bunny Trouble”

We hope this spreads acceptance this April — and beyond!


This Local Business Provides More Than Just Workplace Training for Autistic Adults


Beneficial Beans Cafe and Garden provide workplace training and raise funds for adults on the spectrum.

Read the full transcript:

This Local Business Provides More Than Just Workplace Training for Autistic Adults

Beneficial Beans Cafe and Beneficial Beans Garden are located in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona.

Their 12-week training program prepares individuals for community-based employment.

Employees learn time and task management, customer service, attention to detail and how to respond to change and feedback.

100% of the garden’s proceeds benefit adults on the spectrum.

The program was created by Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC).

SARRC hopes raise funds and foster job skills for autistic adults.

“They taught me that I can do anything, especially with the coffee, that I put my mind to,” -Kristopher Wipprecht, Beneficial Beans Garden And Cafe Intern

To learn more, visit


My Son's Awesome Response About the Autistic Power Ranger


Hot on the heels of the recent reveal that “Sesame Street” has their first autistic Muppet, there is a re-boot of the “Power Rangers Movie.” And you’ve guessed it, one of the Power Rangers is autistic.

As a parent of kids with autism, one who is a 9-year-old Power Rangers fan — I literally squealed with excitement when I heard the news.

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are back! A group of ordinary school kids find themselves instilled with alien powers they must master as a team to save the world. Among one of those “ordinary kids” is one with autism.  This didn’t really strike home until I told my son, Anthony, about it.

“Anthony, you know the ‘Power Rangers’ movie that’s coming out soon?”

“Ohhhh yes.”

“Well, this is really exciting — the Blue Ranger has autism, like you. He will be a bit like you.”

“Oh mom, that will just make him even more like me.”

Then I listened as my amazing son told me the ways in which he is already like a Power Ranger.

1. He is brave.

Anthony struggles with several challenges. He is brave to get over his fears and worries every day.

2. He is strong.

Take a boy with autism and ADHD who spends all day jumping about and you get someone fit. He’s no longer losing weight due to his medication, so he is lean and strong — not unlike the Power Rangers.

3. He wants to help and protect people.

OK, he was beginning to pull at my heartstrings, but it’s true. Anthony tries to protect everyone. He seems desperate to keep everyone safe. The best way he tries to do this is by helping others follow the rules and his general empathy far exceeds what you may think you’d find in a 9-year-old boy with autism. He even wanted to protect the kids who bullied him at school so they wouldn’t get into trouble.

4. He moves fast.

Anthony loves speed. Roller coasters, driving on motor ways, he’s even into motor sports himself. It’s as if he should have been born on a planet with a faster spin. When he’s rushing around the house, he’s almost a blur.

5. He’s good at fighting.

OK, that sounds a bit of a disaster but it’s not, really. Both Anthony and his brother David are on the autistic spectrum and they are both sensory seekers. It’s a bit like having an itch that you need to scratch I guess. But it’s not an itch, it’s a need for pressure or loud noises or something else that stimulates their senses. This means they seek out touch and contact — hugs, rolling and rough and tumble play are in abundance in our house.

And my absolute favorite which I’m paraphrasing for comprehension:

6. “I’m not the same as everyone else and it can be difficult sometimes, but I’m still best when I’m myself.”

The Power Rangers are special and they are different from the other kids in school. This means they have to take on evil aliens and protect the world. But being who they are makes them stronger in their battles and leads them to victory. And at the end of the day, even though they are different, they’re also just kids who go to school.

Yes Anthony, you are awesome.

Needless to say, my eldest boy is super excited the “Power Rangers Movie” has just come out. Well done to those involved in the making of the movie, who made it even more relatable for our lad. His only suggestion was if he’d chosen a Ranger to be autistic it would be the red one, but only because red is his favorite color.

Follow this journey at Rainbows are too Beautiful

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Photo source: Youtube video


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