Sesame Street’s New Muppet with Autism Doesn’t Tell the Entire Story
Sesame Street is doing something very cool to bring autism awareness and acceptance to kids through their TV show. Although I appreciate Sesame Street’s attempt to introduce in a new character with autism, it doesn’t tell the entire story of what it’s like to have autism or care for someone with autism.
Autism is such a broad spectrum of conditions. Saying someone has autism is like saying someone likes candy. Candy can be chocolate, licorice, hard candies — a lot falls into that category. Austism has a lot under its umbrella, too.
My son has autism and it’s not just a ‘social awkward, acts younger but is a savant at some subjects’ like it’s usually portrayed on film. As Temple Grandin put it, “It’s a continuem of traits.” Some have brilliant minds when it comes to math and science, some can do fantastic art with paint brushes and Legos and some are just satisfied staring at a ceiling fan.
My son has severe autism which includes being non-verbal (he can speak, but doesn’t use his voice for communication) and small things can set him off, especially if something goes off his schedule. The new Muppet isn’t like that. Not yet, anyways.
I saw a few clips of the new Muppet with autism and they did a nice job portraying her with autism on that level. I’ve known several who act like that. I’m hoping future episodes show other triggers and levels of autism.
I also hope they don’t hyper-focus on just the autism part of her as well. Like my son. Yes, he has autism, but that’s not who he is. I’m also hoping she will be with the rest of the characters like in a classroom setting and not just ‘hanging out’ like they do sometimes. We’ll see.