Lisa Medlyn knew the one thing that would delight her daughter on her milestone 16th birthday: Sesame Street.
Tori Medlyn, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age and is considered nonverbal, has always found comfort in the longtime PBS series.
“It’s funny because she doesn’t speak well, but she can type and so she always Googles Sesame Street video clips on YouTube,” the Arizona mom told LittleThings. “She knows how to Google all her favorite episodes, and watch them over and over again.”
In turn, Lisa reached out to Sesame Street in hopes that the company would at least send Tori a birthday card. Six months later, Lisa was stunned when they replied to her email asking for more information about Tori in order to put together a special surprise.
And just in time for Tori’s birthday on November 28, they sent her a personalized “Happy Birthday” video featuring none other than Elmo. The Muppet spoke about some of Tori’s beloved things, including swimming and pasta, and even performed one of her favorite songs from the show, “Sing.” A bag with a whole bunch of Sesame Street–themed goodies was also sent.
The surprise came about a month after the company launched an autism initiative in October (Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children) to bring awareness to the condition affecting about one in 68 births in the United States. Aside from providing families, teachers, and caregivers with important information about autism, the initiative also introduced a character with autism, Julia.
The moment meant the world to Tori, as well as her mom.
“The reason I emailed them is there are so many missed opportunities when you have a kid with special needs,” Lisa said. “So it was really awesome because it was one of those times in our life that we all had something to look forward to. … This is one thing that got to be just for her.”
Read more of Tori’s incredible story and watch the special video (originally shared on Lisa’s YouTube page) below.
Due to restrictions, this video cannot
be viewed in your region.