Not In Love With Julia

She watched this so we wouldn’t have to. I was encouraged by their partner organizations, so I am disappointed. I especially call your attention to this: “Can you imagine Sesame Street making videos of parents of typical children complaining about how difficult it is to raise their kids? Can you imagine Sesame Street doing this with parents of kids with other disabilities? Somehow it is unique to autism that the “parents’ lives are hard” story must ALWAYS be included. It really does not have to be included. There is a time and place to talk about how hard parenting your autistic kids can be, and it’s the same place you talk about how hard parenting your typical kids can be, how hard your marriage can be, how hard your friendships can be – privately, with trusted friends and family.”

Erin Human

Everyone might be tired of hearing about Sesame Street’s new autistic muppet by the time I post this, but before I wrote up a full review I had to make my way through all of the materials at the “Sesame Street and Autism” site. I watched all of the videos, either when the kids weren’t around or with headphones while they were otherwise occupied, because I wanted to screen them first before I let them view of it – and, yes, it is weird to have to screen Sesame Street, of all things, for harmful messaging, but such is the state of the mainstream dialogue on autism that I knew there were likely to be some things I would not want my kids to see or hear. And there were.

What is Sesame Street and Autism?

First, a brief explanation of what Sesame Street and Autism is and isn’t. There’s been…

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3 thoughts on “Not In Love With Julia

  1. *Sigh* I’ve always loved most of Sesame Street. But they’ve not been as awesome around ability diversity as they have been around other dimensions of diversity…

  2. /1/

    Great response (below) from SESAME’s Jeanette Betancourt — who now, please note, writes “autistic children”!
    She wrote this to me after a couple of my Autism Society contacts (Scott Badesch and Michael Leaver, who share my concerns) visited her and, apparently, mentioned the letters they knew I’d written her and other SESAME executives.
    [Note: below, I’ve trimmed sign-offs — hers and mine — to save space. I’ve also snipped out my original letter, as it was long & simply summarized, with credit where due, the points made here & elsewhere.]
    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Betancourt, Jeanette
    Date: Friday, October 30, 2015
    Subject: Julia, “See the Amazing,” and your request to “hear from the autistic community.”
    To: “Handwritingrepair@gmail.com”
    Dear Ms. Gladstone and Mr. Harber,
    Thank you for your correspondence to several of us at Sesame Workshop. Scott Badesch and Michael Leaver were kind enough to share your concerns with us as well. We are grateful that you reviewed the initiative and each of the components, and sent us such thoughtful feedback. Your insights and recommendations are extremely helpful as we consider additional components or activities around this initiative. As we proceed, we want to make every effort to demonstrate the diversity of the autism community. We highly value our partnership with the Autism Society and other partners, as well as input from the community. All of this will to continue to guide us in how to have the greatest impact, especially for young autistic children and their families.
    Respectfully,
    Dr. Jeanette Betancourt
    /2/
    For the sake of completeness: my response to Dr. Betancourt …
    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Kate Gladstone
    Date: Friday, October 30, 2015
    Subject: RE: Julia, “See the Amazing,” and your request to “hear from the autistic community.”
    To: “Betancourt, Jeanette”
    Thank you for your reply! My husband thanks you too! (By the way, his surname is spelled “Haber” — rhymes with “neighbor” — not “Harber.”)
    It was good to see a response — and I thank you for recognizing, and using, the increasingly chosen language of more and more autistics (“autistic children/adults/people/etc.” rather than “people/adults/children with autism”).
    I look forward to seeing Julia, and others in this project, fully included in SESAME STREET — and telling their own stories. Your response lets me trust that this is being worked on.
    /3/ Her welcome response to that:
    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Betancourt, Jeanette
    Date: Friday, October 30, 2015
    Subject: RE: Julia, “See the Amazing,” and your request to “hear from the autistic community.”
    To: “Handwritingrepair@gmail.com”
    Dear Ms. Gladstone and Mr. Haber (thank you for the correction),
    I appreciate your very kind response and continued guidance.
    Regards,
    Jeanette

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