They were talking about the new Muppet on NPR this afternoon. When Zoo Keeper heard that the Muppet is autistic, he said, “Like us!”

Yes, like us. Sort of.

I first heard about the autistic Muppet from Sparky, who sent me a direct link to the Sesame Street autism website. I was thrilled. An autistic Muppet hanging out on Sesame Street? How cool is that? Not only will Sesame Street be bringing autism awareness and acceptance directly into millions of homes, they’ll be showing about it rather than telling.

I went to check out the site. I’m not crazy about the theme song, but the videos for parents are great. BamBam has moved away from Sesame Street, but I couldn’t wait to pull him back in to check Julia, the new Muppet, out.

Then a friend sent me this People article about the new Muppet.

Frankly, I was crushed. I couldn’t believe  that the autistic girl is only a digital character. The article says that’s because “Families with autistic children tend to gravitate toward digital content, which is why we created Julia digitally.” Whether that’s true or not, this content shouldn’t be targeted toward families with autistic children. Don’t get me wrong: it will be great for autistic children and their families to see, Zoo Keeper’s certainly excited about it, but those families already know about autism. They live it. This content needs to be pervasive.

I don’t believe the general public will go out of its way to watch this digital content any more than they will seek out information about autism until it affects their lives in a personal way.

What Sesame Street really needs to help society move closer to autism acceptance is a physical autistic muppet to interact with Abby and Elmo on the actual show. Every day. Make her part of the group. Include her in outings and show how she might react to different situations. Don’t make it about autism. Make autism a part of the show.

For that matter, include a non-verbal autistic adult among the other adult actors on the show. Let everyone see that autistic people are just people who, though they may need accommodations to participate fully, are part of our society. Because autistic kids aren’t on the playground for one short, isolated segment of time and then gone any more than those same autistic kids disappear when they grow up. Available services and support disappear, but we’re still here.

That’s what I think, anyway. #SeeAmazing