I saw this link on Facebook (I think..I forget. Somewhere. Anyway….) and as I read the article, I felt tears of joy roll down my face until I started almost ugly happy crying.
Growing up, PBS was often a babysitter for my siblings and myself. We watched The Disney Afternoon, but like most kids of our generation, we watched Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, too.
Sesame Street worked (and does work!) so hard to include everybody–black, white, Latino, Asian, whatever. Awhile back, they introduced a muppet with AIDS and now they’re going to introduce a muppet with Autism which is so amazing. Because Autism, whether you’re high or low functioning, is EVERYFREAKINGWHERE. Statistics say that one in sixty eight (which is a helluva lot) kids are somewhere on the spectrum. Society is working on awareness and dealing with people with autism, but we’re not where we need to be just yet. SO many stereotypes still abound.
I get asked sometimes if my son is just like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rainman or if he’s more like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. And to be fair, I often categorize his days as Rainman (lower end of the scale when he’s not feeling particularly social and gets more upset when his routine is disrupted) or Sheldon Cooper (when things are less stressful and he’s not as flipped out when his routines are disrupted) days. Mostly because I can’t think of any other GOOD way to explain to people why he’s having a bad day and that his meltdown isn’t because he’s being a selfish, entitled teenage turd. It’s just his way of dealing with the fact that something in his world isn’t quite right and instead of dealing with it internally, the way most of us would do, he chooses to express his discomfort…loudly, and sometimes with growling, stomping and flapping.
Maybe this isn’t a HUUUUGE step towards educating the general populous about the disorder that has such a huge impact on my life and the lives of so many others. But it’s a step in the right direction. Good job, Sesame Street. Jim Henson would be SO proud of you.