The Oscars and People With Disabilities in the Media

With all the hype of the upcoming Oscars, many fans have been discussing the role of people with disabilities in the media. Some recent shows and movies, such as The Good Doctor and Wonder, have made an effort to make a person with a disability as the main character. Other shows have been written by people on the autism spectrum and/or have been consultants to movie directors. Given how broad the disability spectrum is, it is important to remember that “no one size fits all” and no one TV show will show all the unique characteristics within someone diagnosed with a specific disability. As I started to research people with disabilities in the media, I found a bunch of articles that name specific people, shows, and movies. I have included them below for your reference.


  1. Wonder
  2. Temple Grandin
  3. The Mighty
  4. A more detailed list by category here:

TV Shows:

  1. The Good Doctor
  2. Born This Way
  3. Atypical


  1. Actors and Filmmakers with Autism 
  2. 25 Actors with Down Syndrome

Some fun side articles:

  1. How Satoshi Tajiri’s Autism Helped Create Pokemon

A New Character With Autism On Sesame Street

Last month, a new character with autism was introduced on the show Sesame Street, which created a positive reaction from individuals around the world. Julia, the newest character of the show, has autism and acts in a stereotypical manner of many peers in the classroom.

sesame street, inclusion, tv and disabilities

For example, Julia is seen flapping her hands, repeating words, and not responding to a greeting by Big Bird. Alan, the narrator, explains that Julia is not trying to ignore Big Bird, but instead responds to people differently than Big Bird himself. He says, “She does things just a little differently, in a Julia sort of way.” It may take her a bit longer to respond, but it’s okay.

Sesame street does a great job explaining some of the behaviors Julia demonstrates and does an even better job at explaining an appropriate way others can respond to such behaviors. For example, Julia is sensitive to loud noises. She repeats things that were just said by her friends and avoids eye contact. Although she acts differently than her peers, Julia fits right in and is part of the show. An example showing Julia and Elmo playing or Julia and Abby playing can bring tears to an eye of an educator or parent who is constantly striving to create this type of peer interaction and play environment.

Julia’s arrival of the show comes at a unique time in history. As society is progressively becoming more understanding and tolerant of differences, Julia’s presence on the show showcases how an inclusion setting can operate within the boundaries of love, patience, and understanding. It also teaches children at an early age to accept individuals who behave differently within the classroom environment and community.

I applaud Sesame street for including Julia in their show and for accurately depicting some common social situations that can occur in a life of a child with autism.