Zoom Autism Magazine Issue12 - Page 34

CUMMINGS AND GOINGS Conner and I with our new friends Julia and Elmo. I n April, Conner and I were invited to the Sesame Street and Autism Panel in Wash- ington D.C. It was at this event that we had the opportunity to meet Julia. For those who may not know, Julia is the newest Sesame Street Muppet and, as Conner describes her, “Julia is autistic –Julia’s way.” Many of us grew up watching Sesame Street; it was the street that we all wanted to live on. This make-believe STREET in so many ways represented the true meaning of inclusion. On Sesame Street you could find people and characters of all colors, ages, disabilities, cultures and beliefs-- EVERYONE IS WELCOME ON SESAME STREET! Conner watched Sesame Street when he was younger too. In fact, one year he was Big Bird for Halloween. He loved that costume and would wear it everywhere, even to bed, that is until he outgrew it and split the seams. I still have what is left of Big Bird in his memory box. To attend this special Sesame Street Autism event, Conner chose not to wear his Mickey Mouse ears as he thought it would not be respectful. He asked me to carry them in my purse, which of course I did. During the discussions Conner would occasionally put his hand in my purse and touch his Mickey Mouse ears as he quietly hummed the theme to Sesame Street. When Julia was finally introduced to us, at first she was a little quiet. It was her friend Abby who told us that Julia is autistic. Conner was fascinated and listened to Julia when she spoke, whether it was with words or movements. He noted that Julia stims just like he does. We also heard an amazing panel that consisted of Laura Anthony, Julia Bascom and Jeanette Betancourt as well as a few politicians and the creators of Sesame Street. When the meeting was over, we all had an opportunity to meet Julia one-on-one. As you can see from the picture, this was a huge moment for Conner. Conner said, “Hi, Julia. My name is Conner, and I am autistic too.” Abby told Julia that Conner is a self-advocate and that he has a law named after him in a state called Virginia. Julia said hi to Conner and showed him her bunny. Conner told her how much he liked her bunny and that he has Mickey Mouse ears that he thinks are similar ‘feels.’ We had the opportunity to meet many people from Sesame Street, including Stacy Gordon, the puppeteer of Julia. Conner dressed up as his favorite Sesame Street character, Big Bird. 34 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses everywhere got to meet the newest Muppet, a red-headed 4-year-old-girl with a fondness for playing tag and a stuffed bunny. Of course we watched liked millions of others. We both think that Sesame Street did a wonderful job introducing Julia, and we look forward to seeing what they will do next. Conner was able to discuss his ideas for Sesame Street, and they really listened. They even took notes. Then we met the host of the