My brother was two years older than me so I watched Sesame Street even before it was appropriate for my age because he was watching it. My parents are both educators and they limited our tv access in the earlier years of our life. Sesame Street and the Electric Company were two of the few shows we were allowed to watch. My parents believed in Sesame Street so much that my brother’s first birthday cake was Big Bird. He’ll be turning 34 soon. I thought about getting him another Big Bird cake for his birthday, but I can’t support anything related to Sesame Workshop now that you have decided to partner with Autism Speaks.
As an Aspie, this partnership of yours hurts me. It has taken years for me to accept my autism and to not hate myself for not being ‘normal’ like everyone else. Even now I still sometimes slip back into that mindset. I always been a huge fan of Jim Henson’s work. I have almost all of the movies and tv show episodes that have been released. I also was a collector of the Palisades Toys’ Muppet Action Figure line. I have almost every product released in that line. I even have a prototype of the Jim Henson action figure. I had planned to collect their Sesame Street line too, but Super Grover was the only of those that went into production. I used to love those action figures. In my darkest times, all of Jim Henson’s muppets (not just the ones owned by Disney) were the go to distraction when I needed to feel better. Now when I look at them I am reminded of your partnership with Autism $peaks and I feel sad.
I know that the lack of understanding about my neurodiversity has seriously impacted my life. It isn’t as though I can just tell a potential employer that I as socially awkward or don’t make a great first impression because I am Aspie. The horror stories they have heard from groups like Autism $peaks cause them to assume that I couldn’t possibly do the job. I even encountered discrimination concerning health care due to my Aspie-ness. I was excluded from a clinical trial for a medication because I was diagnosed with a form of Pervasive Developmental Disorder. The people that set up the protocol believed that all people with PDD are unable to communicate effectively. The trial was the first trial for any treatment for my illness, but I wasn’t allowed in because of the assumptions people have from listening to the stuff spewed by Autism $peaks. I still struggle with my illness and I still don’t qualify for a clinical trial because of the popular misconceptions about people with autism.
Please end this horrible partnership and preserve the welcoming environment Sesame Street had been for so many. I sincerely hope that you will come to your senses so that I can get my brother a Big Bird cake for his birthday next year.