With Autism Awareness Month coming to an end MAKERS, which hosts the largest video collection of women’s stories, has announced a list celebrating 14 amazing women with autism. A much more worthwhile compilation of individuals than Heat Magazine’s Weird Crush List. With so few women compared to males being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, it seems remarkable that there are so many who have made such big and worthwhile contributions, and not to mention fantastic role models. The ‘Rain Man’ condition is a thing of the past. These are all independent and strong women, leading the way for autism awareness and knowledge. An eclectic mix of high-functioning women, some who even in adulthood struggle to communicate verbally, which makes there achievements even more remarkable. I am not really one for parties, but if God forbid I had to host one, these would be my ideal guests! There are many more I could personally add to this list, in particular author Rudy Simone, but here is the MAKERS pick:
27 year old, Hungarian autistic savant writer, artist and poet, introducing Henriette Seth. Refused by all the primary schools in her area due to severe communication problems, Henriette is now a world renowned and award winning artist and writer and Psychology graduate.
This is 17 year old Jessica-Jane Applegate. She has Asperger’s Syndrome and is also a Paralympic Gold medalist, setting the world record for the 200 freestyle swim.
Next on the list is Australian author Lucy Blackman. She used typed communication throughout her adolescence and has since graduated from university and is the proud author of ‘Lucy’s Story’. She now gives talks on the importance of facilitated communication and how it has changed her life.
Introducing Donna Williams, Australian writer, artist and singer. Donna suffered from hearing problems as a child but was not diagnosed until in her 30’s. She is the author of the international bestseller ‘Nobody Nowhere’, and is a successful artist and composer. Currently she works as an international public speaker and autism consultant.
This lady is my personal autism role model. Not diagnosed until her early 40s, Liane Holliday Willey is an accomplished author and equestrian. Her book ‘Safety Skills for Women with Autism’ and ‘Pretending to be Normal’ are popular reads for females on the spectrum.
No introduction needed, this is world famous Susan Boyle, who rose to fame on the UK’s Britain’s Got Talent show in 2009. She is a Grammy Nominated and best selling singer.
An unlikely face for autism, Phillipa Margaret Brown, AKA ‘LadyHawke’ is a New Zealand singer and song writer. Her music is award winning in New Zealand.
Lizzy Clark is the first actor with Asperger’s to play someone with Autism, most famous for her role in ‘Dustbin Girls’, a Jacqueline Wilson adaptation. Her mother has since started up the campaign ‘Don’t play me, pay me’, which promotes those with disabilities to get into acting.
Another unlikely face, Heather Kuzmich is the fourth runner up of America’s Next Top Model. She has been open about her Asperger’s during the competition and has made TV appearances and featured in magazines discussing her diagnosis.
Introducing next Dawn Prince-Hughs, anthropologist. Despite struggling with fine motor skills Dawn was not diagnosed until high schools. She believes her passion for animals, and in particular her fascination with gorrilas, has helped her develop coping mechanisms to deal with her Asperger’s. She is the author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism. She now works with gorillas at Woodland Park Zoo.
Valerie Paradiz was only diagnosed with autism after her son was diagnosed. She is an autistic activist, promoting support in schools and corporations for those with disabilities.
This is Daryl Hannah, recognisable to anyone who has seen the films Splash, Kill Bill, Wall Street or Steel Magnolias. She has struggled with anxiety as a result of her Asperger’s, and at one point when she was younger doctors suggested institutionalizing her. She persevered, concentrating on her passions acting, ballet and the environment.
Last but certainly not least, Temple Grandin. Her autism led her to be world-famous for revolutionizing the live stock industry. She works lecturing at a university and also writing and giving talks on autism. Her books ‘Thinking in Pictures’ and most recently ‘The Autistic Brain’, give a very unique insight into the disorder.
For more on women on the spectrum read my previous blog post The Misdiagnosis of Women on the Autism Spectrum: A Shared Story