Autistic Culture
The Autistic Culture Podcast
Sesame Street Is Autistic (Episode 20)
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Sesame Street Is Autistic (Episode 20)

Listen now (65 mins) | Sesame Street embraces diversity by design. Did they get it right with Julia?
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Matt Lowry and Angela Lauria are recording a podcast episode. Listen to Autistic podcast hosts discuss: Sesame Street Is Autistic. Autism podcast | Sesame Street embraces diversity by design. Did they get it right with Julia? Matt and Angela discuss the show's Autistic origins and the newest "Autistic" character.
M: And they said, we need to build this from the ground up. We need to make it entertaining. We need human adults of all ethnicities living together, working together in an accessible area.

In this episode of The Autistic Culture Podcast:

On this week’s virtual culture trip, Matt Lowry and Angela Lauria discuss the origins of Sesame Street, created with the goals of promoting equality, acceptance, and education through family entertainment.

The podcast hosts highlight how Jim Henson's Muppets brought commercial-like musical segments to captivate kids' attention and teach letters/numbers. The character Bert displays many Autistic traits and is discussed as a positive representation of Autistic adults.

The new Sesame Street muppet, Julia, was first introduced as part of an autism initiative with input from ASAN (the Autistic Self Advocacy Network) to create authentic representation. However, Sesame Street has since controversially partnered with and accepted funding from Autism Speaks—an organization criticized for promoting eugenics that is widely viewed as a hate group in the Autistic community (including promoting a 100 day kit that involves having a funeral for your very-much-still-alive Autistic child or children). Sesame Street soon faced backlash from the Autistic community who felt betrayed by the new inaccurate and harmful portrayal. Soon after, ASAN cut ties with Sesame Street.

“Yeah, and this is the big difference between the Autistic community and the autism community. Because the Autistic community is comprised of Autistic people, Autistic families, and people who, again like us, see autism as a culture and something that is to be celebrated rather than fixed, the autism culture tries to separate autism from the person and…It's like a gremlin that lives in your child's brain that is to be defeated instead of to be understood.” —Matt

The hosts reflect on how capitalism and corporate sponsorships can undermine even well-intentioned media like Sesame Street from fully promoting acceptance of neurodiversity. They explore the nuances of representation in media and how the Autistic community can work towards better representation moving forward.

Angela: You know, love yourself, accept yourself, and learn your neurology—there's not a lot of people making money off of that.

Matt: That's the thing, that's the thing. There is so much money to be made from, quote, ‘curing the autism,’ but self-acceptance is free.

They also address Sesame Street’s long history of listening to and uplifting the voices of actually Autistic individuals since it’s founding.

Despite not always getting it right, Sesame Street has been influenced by, and has contributed to, Autistic Culture significantly over the decades. They conclude by encouraging listeners to educate others on Autistic experiences, as many parents may not be aware of these issues. Sharing positive stories of Autistic people is key to broadening acceptance and understanding.

Did you grow up loving Sesame Street? Do you find the characters relatable? Tell us about it in the comments?

The Amazing Song

ASAN on Autism Speaks

Illuminaughtii on Autism Speaks

More on Autism Speaks

Muppet Guys Talking

Frank Oz at Jim Hensen’s Memorial

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, appeared in 202

Looking for kid-friendly Autistic characters? Check out: Episode 22: Trains are Autistic and Episode 18: Ponies are Autistic

Ready for a paradigm shift that empowers Autistics? Help spread the news!

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Learn more about Matt at Matt Lowry, LPP

Matt’s social media: Autistic Connections Facebook Group

Learn more about Angela at AngelaLauria.com and Difference Press

Angela’s social media: Twitter and TikTok

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Autistic Culture
The Autistic Culture Podcast
Welcome to the Autistic Culture Podcast. Each episode we dive deep into Autistic contributions to society and culture by introducing you to some of the world’s most famous and successful Autistics in history!
Whether you are Autistic or just love someone who is, your hosts, Dr. Angela Lauria, the Linguistic Autistic and Licensed Psychological Practitioner, Matt Lowry, welcome you to take this time to be fully immersed in the language, values, traditions, norms, and identity of Autistica!
To learn more about Angela, Matt, and the Autistic Culture Podcast visit AutisticCulturePodcast.com