Valley Voices

‘We’ve got your back!’ Fresno autism advocate gives shout-out to ‘Sesame Street’ Julia

Julia, right, is a new ‘Sesame Street’ character who lives with autism.
Julia, right, is a new ‘Sesame Street’ character who lives with autism. PBS

Autistics shouldn’t be seen as humans on children’s TV (or be seen at all it unless it’s in a photo to accompany doomsday-styled statistics), according to some jerks quoted on Rawstory.com recently.

Those-who-will-not-be-named-here are talking trash about our girl, Julia. She is our cute-as-a-button girl, orange hair and bright-colored outfit, now integrating the “Sesame Street” world.

This isn’t the first time such horrible things have been said in response to actual autism acceptance. It’s a cycle and one that is continuing now that the world can finally see autistics in a nonthreatening, nonviolent and approachable manner.

Julia was described in this article as “yet another sickening example of the absolute mental derangement of modern society.” Another quote shared a similar sentiment.

“I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thought this! I was like, why in the world is everyone celebrating this?!!” posted #AbleistPerson.

“Normalize autism! It’s not normal; it’s cruel that vax companies help cause this, and then it’s oh, this is normal.” #NormalAutisticHere (Can’t believe I just used that word.)

Note this: Not a single #ActuallyAutistic was quoted hating on Julia in the story – just a bunch of jerks who think our brains are diseased and need to be cured or are caused by vaccines, an outright and proven lie.

Members of this subculture of neurotypical folks think they represent authentic autistic voices. Why? Because they are parents, family members or loved ones of an autistic person. Their relationships and challenges raising that child make them feel qualified to be spokespeople. They misguidedly attempt to represent autistic people.

It gets far more messed up than that. This type goes on to ignore us, belittle us, tell us we’re too high-functioning to have a voice, too low-functioning to have a voice and generally none of us can possibly know what’s in our own best interest. We are expected to sit back and let them advocate for us.

There is also a belief (an obsession perhaps?) that vaccinations are the cause of this “heinous disease.” Every other reality of autistic life and community is rejected. And rejected fiercely.

Let’s not forget the ridiculous fight about a “cure” for autism. It’s frustrating that what most don’t understand yet is that the cure for autism is identifying a genetic marker to give people a choice to end the pregnancy. Abortion has always been “the cure” and $220 million was donated to find that cure via Autism Speaks – hence #boycottautismspeaks.

Now, this isn’t an argument against abortion. It’s an argument against autistic genocide. This is an argument that our lives are worthy and we’re not #BetterDeadThanDisabled.

This is an argument against funneling money out of our communities to fund the impossible cure, and letting our people survive without supports and services. These folks ignore that these kids grow up – and no, we don’t “grow out of it.”

Many of us want to seek higher education, employment, safe and secure housing. We want proper supports for all autistics from childhood education, transitional age services, sustainable employment opportunities, supported independent living to realistic adult-geared guides on socializing safely. All autistics deserve to live good-quality lives.

This is an argument about how these groups continue to vilify autistics as an apocalypse on society.

Autistics are human. We are people. And we are worthy of life. We are worthy of liking our life, too. Here’s something else those folks should note: There have always been autistics; there will always be autistics. Thank your technology that we are here and we exist.

The very tools these folks use to communicate, to spread their inaccurate information, to army-build followers and activists were invented by – oh, get this; wait for it … autistics.

Shut up, right? If you don’t believe it – Google Alan Turing. Also, maybe give thanks to his invention for living in a Hitler-free world, too. That’s just one autistic and his positive impact.

So autistics have a rich history – also an ostracized history filled with suicide and death by murder – and we are allowed to be proud of our predecessors’ achievements. Hell, the whole world should be celebrating autistics and the incredible betterment to humanity that has resulted.

This is what all kids should be seeing – not hate, exclusion and otherness. Autistic children deserve to be included in society, represented in our culture and seen having a positive impact on communities, too.

So, Julia just came out into public on “Sesame Street” and already a backlash, something autistics are familiar with all too well. Maybe this negative can be created into a positive.

Can we set an example of support? Support for this autistic puppet – to represent support for autistic people?

Yes, Julia’s a puppet and she needs our support. Let her, and other little autistics who are watching, know that we got her (their) back out here. Let’s help Elmo and his friends support and advocate for Julia, too.

Maybe we can take this trash and create something good.

Eve Hinson of Fresno is founder of American Badass Advocates. Connect with her at www.americanbadassadvocates.org, Here are their hastags: #JuliaWeGotYourBack #AutisticandProud #SeeAmazing #StayAmazing #boycottAutismSpeaks #ActualAutismAcceptance.

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