Polarizing Autism Figures

So today I want to talk about two characters who are Autistic…sort of. One is Julia on Sesame Street. Now with Julia, there is no “sort of”. Julia is Autistic. Period. We know that. They say she is on the show. Julia, while beneficial, is sort of a polarizing character. She was the unofficial poster child for Autism when she debuted three years ago. I, for one, love the idea of Julia! However I have friends who do not think as highly of Julia. I interact with people from all over the Autism Spectrum—at least used to pre-covid—and I know what Autism can do to people. I am not pretending to understand what others go through, but I can only guess. My opinion of Julia is rated very highly. Actually, she is probably my favorite representation of Autism on TV. Maybe that is sentimental values, but I feel Julia embraces the diagnosis. Now Julia is lower functioning and has some almost stereotypical attributes of Autism. Examples include noise sensitivity, low verbal speech, and hand flapping. Yes it is stereotypical but I think it works. My buddy, on the other hand, said “Sesame Street has gone too far.” And that’s ok. That’s his opinion. All are entitled to their own own opinions.

Now the second character I want to discuss was literally only brought to my attention last night. And he happens to be a character on my favorite show: Bob’s Burgers. Gene Belcher, according to YouTuber The Fangirl (I’ll attach a link to her video below) might be Autistic. I always thought Gene was just eccentric. But after watching The Fangirl’s video, the diagnosis makes a Hell of a lot of sense. Gene might just have high functioning Autism. He has no filter, hardly any friends, is socially awkward, speaks his mind, and in one episode, is shown to have noise sensitivity. But because Gene is 11 years old, and not “formally” diagnosed, he might just be a weird kid. However after dissecting the video and thinking about it, it would not surprise me if the creators confirm this theory. One thing The Fangirl points out is Louise and Tina, Gene’s siblings. Until I saw this video I had no idea this was a thing, but it is actually common for younger siblings of a person on the Spectrum to act out for attention. Tying into the “Gene is Autistic” theory, this makes sense. Tina is a teenager. So she has no older siblings. Gene is the middle child and awkward. Louise is the youngest and is the Hellraiser of the family. She’s almost imitating Gene for attention. Oddly enough, Gene never gets into trouble per se for what he does. Everyone just accepts it as “typical Gene”. This is great because if Gene had been diagnosed, it might have a different view on the show. People might treat Gene differently. If you have read any of my posts in the past, you know I do not want to be treated differently. As someone with high functioning Autism, I want to be treated as an equal peer. But I am not confirming any of this. I advise you to go watch the show, “study” Gene’s behavior, and make your own decisions.

So what do you think? What are your thoughts on Gene and Julia? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

-Tom

Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend

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