|Julia, a muppet with autism, will join the cast of |
"Sesame Street" on April 10. Welcome, Julia!
When I was three, four, five years ago, I didn't understand it. What kid at that age would?
As I got older, I understood why I was different. I'm gay and have ADHD.
None of that is really a problem. Only an ignoramous would care, or criticize me for being gay. Having ADHD is just a part of me. It's both a strength and a weakness, or maybe neither. It's just there.
Everybody is different, but if you're too different, that could be a problem. At least for a few people.
Little kids -toddlers, the pre-school crowd, - really aren't worried at all about who's different and why.
As kids get older, they learn from adults, some of whom aren't as emotionally intelligent as young children. Some people "learn" that gay people are perverts. People with ADHD are lazy, undisciplined, selfish, say some people. They're wrong of course, but you have to deal with them.
However, everybody who's different and has watched "Sesame Street" gets an early education on why it's important to celebrate our differences, and see them as strengths, as long as you're strong enough to understand that as you get older.
A few people will not like you as you get older if you are "different." But Sesame Street gives you the foundation to resist that.
Even at my advanced age - 54 - the welcoming, inclusive vibe of Sesame Street, which I watched religiously as a little kid, helps me out. In my weak, low self-confident moments, I remember that friendly, gentle cast of characters, both humans and muppets, and my mental balance rights itself.
All this is why I love the fact that "Sesame Street" is introducing a new muppet, a little four year old girl named Julia.
Julia is a bright girl with, autism. Any youngster who has questions about why Julia is like she is, thinks like she does, is because she is indeed different.
Different here doesn't mean bad, or lesser, or weak.
Here's how NPR describes Julia:
"She's a shy and winsome four-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes. Julia likes to paint and pick flowers. When Julia speaks, she often echoes what she's just heard her friends Abby and Elmo say..
It can be hard to get Julia's attention. Big Bird has to repeat himself to get her to listen, for example. And she sees things where other's don't. 'That's just Julia being Julia,' Abby said."
Julia began last year as a character in Sesame's books and digital offerings, NPR said. She was part of a campaign called "See Amazing In All Children,'" which gives children with autism and their families Julia - somebody to identify with. Julia also helps people without autism to understand people who do have it.
More from NPR:
"Sherrie Westin, an executive vice-president at Sesame Workshop who oversaw the initiative, said the campaign quickly struck a chord.
'One of my favorite stories is a mother who said that she used the book to explain to her child that she had autism like Julia,' Westin said, shaking her head slightly as she teared up. 'this became the tool for her to have a conversation with her five-year-old daughter.
And you'll love this: At the end her daughter said, 'So I'm amazing too, right''"
It's so nice to see the cast of Sesame Street grow like this. We're all different and not enough people celebrate that fact.
Maybe it's time for me to start watching the show again. Hell, the way things are going these days, maybe everybody should be watching "Sesame Street."
It might do us all good.