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Why I Will Be Watching 'Sesame Street' as an Adult

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“Sesame Street” has a new character, a 4-year-old named Julia. Not only does this adorable new personality have bright orange hair and enthusiasm for life, she also has Autism. This is something many of us having been waiting for.

When I heard about this, I immediately searched for every video and article I could find to learn more about this new character and the show’s push for inclusion and acceptance. This show has been a wonderful platform to teach life lessons to children and “Sesame Street” has done it again.

Julia is Elmo’s friend, a bright character who is immediately accepted into the “Sesame Street” family. While Julia gets along well with the other characters, she does things a little differently at times. She covers her ears when loud noises overwhelm her, flaps her arms when she is excited, and sometimes avoids eye contact with others. I especially love how real the show is making this character. They are not trying to cover anything or pretend she doesn’t have a disability — instead they embrace everything that makes Julia unique. There have been times when I’ve watched people in the community seem uncomfortable, unaware of how to interact with someone with a disability. This is when we often see people with disabilities treated like tragic heroes or victims. In “Sesame Street” everyone simply embraces Julia. They acknowledge and accept her differences, and are quick to explain that while Julia does have autism, it simply makes her “just Julia.”

I am 20 years old and you can bet I will be watching “Sesame Street.” I am eager to see what situations and experiences Julia will have on the show, and how other autistic traits might be portrayed. This is a huge step for the already inclusive cast of “Sesame Street” and I can’t thank them enough. I am eager to see upcoming episode and watch this new story-line unfold. To those inside the disability community, I know some of us are doing our own little happy dance right now.

For those who do not have a child with a disability, please use this as a tool to teach your children about autism and other disabilities. Teach them these individuals do have differences, just like everyone else has something that makes them unique. Teach them not to be afraid of the child with autism in their classroom, but instead be a friend and peer advocate. Children are curious, let them be curious. Show them it is not only okay to reach out to a child with disabilities, but encouraged. And adults — nobody is too old to watch “Sesame Street.”

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Photo by: “Sesame Street” Facebook page

Originally published: March 22, 2017
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