The film is about a middle-aged married couple giving birth to a son named Alex with Down syndrome. Instead of sending the child away to a foster home, the couple chooses to raise the child, integrating him into society as much as possible, allowing him to live a dignity-filled life.
To help raise awareness about handicapped children, Alex's mother (played by Tyne Daly) arranges for her son to appear on Sesame Street. She personally speaks on the phone with the show's creator, Joan Ganz Cooney (who provides a voiceover in the film), and promises to help the producers find more special children. Caroll Spinney is credited as Big Bird in a sequence shot on a simple set consisting of a brick wall, Big Bird's nest, and a chalkboard. Alex and his family watch the scene on TV from home, which involves Big Bird and Alex forming words that end in at.
Other references to the show include Alex's father asking his son to count in Spanish as he learned on Sesame Street, and a scene where Alex argues with his mother about taking a Big Bird doll to school despite his being too old to do so.