This day has been a very emotional day for me. I have read about Sesame Street and Julia, their new autism character a few days ago. However, I didn’t realize how much publicity this would receive. I am very surprised at People magazine and the Today Show all doing stories about her. I didn’t imagine all the buzz this would receive.
About one in every 65 boys are diagnosed with autism. This means that the chances of your child to have a classmate with autism is higher than when we were in school. The reasons for this vary depending on who you talk to. But, we can have this conversation another time….
Sesame Street’s purpose is to spread awareness. Obviously this awareness is aimed at mostly their audience: toddlers and preschoolers. Their message is simple. To tell kids it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to not want to do what everyone else does. It’s okay. Although this message is simple, it is groundbreaking. This is a new road that we are trying to pave for boys and girls like my son. My wish is that the older he gets the less stares he will receive, more acceptance, more compassion, and more empathy. The simple thought that it’s okay if he doesn’t want to play with typical toys and it is okay if he wants to be alone for a little bit. It is okay if he flaps his hands. It is okay. And these young children will grow up knowing this.
These kids growing up with acceptance means that my son’s future will have hope. He will be accepted in society. In the old times kids like my son would be secluded, sent away. But this new road we are paving will be the exact opposite. Where bullying may not be permitted. Who knows? But my son’s future has hope.
I know many of you were like me. I had heard of autism awareness. I had heard of the 5Ks and the walks. But since it didn’t affect me personally, I didn’t pay the attention I should have. But now that I am here, I feel it is my duty to try to protect my son as much as possible. And one of those ways is to have him have a safer road ahead of him.
So I want to ask you one thing. Raise your kids to be open minded. Let your kids see in you the difference. Help them to see the beauty in everyone. Your actions will help pave the way for kids like my son and their autism journey. I read it takes 40 years to change a culture. But if we start now, within our homes, we can narrow the time down. My son, myself, my family, my friends, and the autism community will be extremely grateful.