Not too long ago, Kerry Magro released a list called “100 People with Autism You Should Know,” with the intent of introducing autistic people and their allies to a variety of autistic advocates. Unfortunately, Magro’s list doesn’t really reflect the autistic community. Magro’s list contributes to the idea that autistic people are predominantly white men who don’t view their disability as political. This alternative list is an effort to reflect the diversity of the autistic community. I wanted to highlight fierce advocates for civil rights and inclusion that reject the idea that we must comply in order to be acceptable. You can find these trailblazing autistic activists on personal blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and other social media.
- Lydia Brown blogs at Autistic Hoya and tweets under the same handle. Lydia is a law student, public speaker and radical disability advocate who has been widely published. They focus on intersectional disability advocacy and ending violence against people with disabilities.
- Julia Bascom is the current Executive Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), a non-profit established to advance the human rights of autistic people. She blogs sporadically at Just Stimming, and tweets from @JustStimming. She spearheaded the Loud Hands narrative project and anthology.
- Kit Mead blogs and tweets about autism, LGBTQ issues, disability history, psychiatric disability, politics and community advocacy. Their work explores the intersections between gender, disability and identity.
- Shain Neumeier is an autistic activist whose work focuses on ending institutional abuse against autistic and other disabled people and advancing human rights causes.
- Dani Alexis Ryskamp is an autistic academic, speculative fiction author and queer theorist.
- Sparrow Jones blogs about autism, neurodiversity and inclusion at Unstrange Mind. Most recently, he published The ABCs of Autism Acceptance with Autonomous Press. He’s also an artist and composer.
- Ari Ne’eman is a co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the director of MySupport, a platform for connecting people with support needs to service providers. He was appointed by President Obama to the National Disability Council, where he served for five years.
- Eb tweets incisive commentary about disability history, bioethics, intersectionality, inclusive technology and politics at @erabrand. They’re the founder of the Social Justice Wishlists, a direct-aid network. (Also, they post awesome gifs of animals and livetweet documentaries!)
- Anita Cameron is a seasoned disability activist who works with with ADAPT and Not Dead Yet. Her work focuses on bioethics, race and radical disability advocacy.
- Mel Baggs is a long-time disability activist who’s written about bioethics, human rights, communication and support needs. They were a co-creator of org, a pioneering website that featured articles by autistic adults speaking for themselves in a time when the autism community was even more parent-dominated than it is now. They’ve been blogging at Ballastexistenz for over ten years.
- Melanie Yergeau is an English professor at the University of Michigan whose scholarship focuses on disability, rhetoric, English composition and digital media.
- Timotheus Gordon Jr is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago who blogs and tweets about the intersections of race and disability from the perspective of an autistic Black man.
- Ianthe Belisle-Dempsey is ASAN’s communications director and an inclusive technology enthusiast. Ianthe is an expert in finding digital tools to cope with executive functioning difficulties.
- Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone writes about mental health, autism, chronic illness and disability advocacy. Savannah is the social media coordinator for ASAN and the vice-president of Self Advocates United as One, a Pennsylvania-based disability advocacy group.
- Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu is a Black autistic woman who’s involved in autism, racial justice and HIV advocacy. She’s written about parenting, neurodiversity, the intersections between race and disability, and the politics of HIV.
- Manuel Díaz is the president of Texas Neurodiversity at the University of Texas—Austin. He’s written and translated a number of pro-neurodiversity articles at his bilingual English- and Spanish-language website, Neurodivergencia Latina.
- Ruti Regan is an autistic rabbinical student who writes extensively about inclusive religious practices, accessible technology, autonomy for disabled people and questioning the culture of compliance. You can find her at Real Social Skills or on her personal Twitter account.
- Larkin Taylor-Parker is an autistic law student, disability consultant and tuba player. Her work focuses on legal access for disabled people, anti-poverty activism and building autistic community.
- Bev Harp is a researcher, community advocate and blogger. She’s best known for her article “I Am Joe’s Functioning Label,” a criticism of how terms like “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” are inaccurate ways to describe autistic people’s support needs.
- Erin Human is an autistic writer and illustrator who serves as the Art Director for the Autism Women’s Network. She blogs about parenting, autism, inclusive education and disability advocacy.
- Sarah Pripas-Kapit is a historian and freelance writer. She has a PhD in History from UCLA and has had her work on gender and medicine published in Gender and History and the Great Plains Quarterly.
- Corina Becker is the Vice President of the Autism Women’s Network. She is the founder of Autistics Speaking Day, an annual blogging event that highlights the voices of autistic adults. She’s also a webcomic artist and writer.
- Sara Luterman is the founder of NOS Magazine and a communications professional who’s also contributed to The Guardian and The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.
- Elesia Ashkenazy is an autistic activist who’s worked with the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE) as a research assistant. She also serves as a board member with the Autism Women’s Network.
- The Teselecta Multiverse are a multiple collective – four autistic people in a Black, trans male body. They write about disability, the intersections between disability and race, multiplicity, language and poetry. One of their members, Ian Nicholson, is the founder of Barking Sycamores, an anthology of neurodivergent creative writing.
- The Puzzlebox Collective write fiction and non-fiction that incorporates their experiences with disability, autism, multiplicity, sexuality and gender. One member of the collective, Athena, is a partner at Autonomous Press.
- Nick Walker is an autistic academic and Aikido black belt who focuses on dismantling pathological interpretations of autism and other disabilities. He blogs at Neurocosmopolitanism and is a co-owner of Autonomous Press.
- Kris Guin is the founder of Queerability, a blog that explores the intersections between LGBTQ and disabled identities.
- Mike Elk is a DC-based journalist focusing on workers’ rights and politics for Politico. Before writing for Politico, he wrote for In These Times.
- Zoe Gross is the founder of the annual Disability Day of Mourning, an event to remember the lives of disabled people who were murdered by caregivers. She is the Director of Operations of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network; previously, she served as a policy analyst with the federal government.
- Sam Crane is the Public Policy Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a Harvard Law School-educated lawyer, and a former judicial clerk. Sam is a sought-out speaker at disability advocacy conferences for her policy expertise.
- Eric Garcia is an autistic journalist who primarily covers politics. He currently writes for Roll Call and has written for other publications like the National Journal, the New Republic, the Daily Beast and the American Prospect.
- Ma’ayan Anafi is a policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender Equality. Ma’ayan’s work includes co-authoring NCTE’s 2015 Transgender Survey and advocating for legal equality for transgender people.
- Ivanova Smith is an autism and intellectual disability advocate living in Washington State with particular interests in community living and self-determination.
- Tito Mukhopadhyay is an Indian-born, Texas-based poet and writer who communicates through typing. Tito has been featured in the BBC documentary Tito’s World.
- Cynthia Kim runs the Musings of an Aspie blog. She’s also the founder of Stimtastic, an autistic-run online store that sells stim toys.
- Ellavescent is a British autistic trans woman who blogs and tweets about disability rights, with a particular focus on UK disability cuts and the danger they present. She also writes about information security, technology and pop culture.
- Meredith K Ultra is an autistic illustrator whose work uplifts the rights of autistic people and skewers treatments that aim to hurt us.
- Emily Brooks is a journalist and public speaker whose activism focuses on gender, sexuality, disability and neurodiversity.
- James Cusack is the Director of Science at Autistica in the UK. He holds a PhD from the University of Aberdeen. He’s researched the cognition of autistic people and has advocated for an autism strategy for Scotland.
- Michael “Hot Mike” Buckholtz is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, sound designer and songwriter. He is also the founder of Aid for Autistic Children Foundation, a non-profit intended to help families with costs related to autism services.
- Emily Morson is a cognitive neuroscience student who runs a neurodiversity-centric blog, Mosaic of Minds, which includes summaries of research articles for laypeople, advocacy for research that respects the autonomy of people with disabilities, and offers suggestions for improving research. She is also the founder of the #NeurodiverseSTEM hashtag.
- Amy Sequenzia is a non-speaking autistic writer and poet who covers autistic civil rights, politics and disability rights. She contributed to the Typed Words, Loud Voices anthology, a collection of writing by disabled people who type to communicate.
- Ellen Murray is an autistic trans woman based in Northern Ireland. She’s involved with disability and LGBTQ advocacy in Northern Ireland, and has run for office as a Green Party candidate.
- Alyssa Hillary is an autistic grad student, educator and writer. They write about disability, autism, neurodiversity, pop culture, alternative and augmentative communication, and research.
- Amythest Schaber runs the Neurowonderful blog and the Ask an Autistic YouTube channel, where they answer viewers’ questions about autism and neurodiversity.
- Chavisory is an autistic advocate and stage manager who writes about autism, pop culture, neurodiversity, politics and theatre.
- Carrow Narby writes about feminism, autism, critical theory, pop culture, disability and fat positivity. Carrow wrote the Double Rainbow series for Bitch Magazine about the intersections between queerness and disability.
- John Marble is a San Francisco-based journalist and former Obama White House appointee specializing in employment. He’s also worked as a social advocate and a political campaign staff member.
- Hikari Ōe is a Japanese chamber music composer.
- Cyrée Jarelle Johnson is a Black, disabled, queer femme poet and essayist based in New York City. Their work has appeared in the Queer Disability Anthology and make/shift.
23 thoughts on “50+ Autistic People You Should Know”
All very cool people! I am honoured you put me in this Finn! Thank you!
While I agree some excellent names were left out, these universal-we speak for everyone- statements are inappropriate. “Unfortunately, Magro’s list doesn’t really reflect the autistic community.” There were in fact many other advocates that reflect the autistic community. Just as many NTs do not speak for me, no one else-even autistics-have that right either. Instead of decrying good work by good people (many of whom have collaborated with the advocates listed here) why don’t you spend some time w Kerry?
Kerry’s list was overwhelmingly white and male, with some exceptions. Our community contains people of all races and genders, but his list didn’t reflect that diversity.
The biggest problem with Magro’s list is that it seems to be deliberately avoiding notable figures in the autistic community because they would be too controversial, but then he filled up the space which a bunch of inspirational porn nobodies. The fact that Ari Ne’eman wasn’t on the original list was absolutely absurd. By framing the issue with Magro’s list as being about not having enough diversity it overlooks the inherent bias in his list and makes this list looks like it’s biased.
Great list. Excellent foil for A$’s May-I-grow’s list.
Terribly US-centric though. Needs 50 names from the other 94% of the world really. To bridge the divide.
Dr Damian Milton, Monique Craine, Dr Larry Arnold, Emma Dalmayne, Fiona O’leary, La Lionne, Elinor Broadbent, Matt Frost, Paula Jessop Âû, Celeste Littek, Alyson Fiona Bradley, Gareth Nelson, Amy Nelson, Matt Bevan, Michael Tolleson, Donna Williams, Leonora Gregory-Collura, Judy Endow, Connor Âû Lamphard, Frank L. Ludwig, Dr Emma Goodall, Steve Summers, Julia Malkin-Ren, Wenn Lawson, Tony Langdon, Mae Seventh-voice, Geraldine Robertson, Chen Gershuni, David Wolfgang Vagni, Katharine Annear, Michael John Carley, Jeanette Purkis Âû, Damon Matthew Wise Âû, SenNur Fahrali, Rod Morris, Dr Ava-Ruth Baker, Doug Waddell, David Heurtvevent, Damian Francesco Santomauro, Caroline Hearst, Liane Holliday Willey, and more suggestions from folks arriving by the minute 🙂
Been there a few times over the years …
Well put John!
Thanks for including me.
Kassiane is missing. No list about Autistic activists is complete without K.
Most of what I know about the autistic community outside of my neighborhood comes directly from Kassiane.
Absolutely a must to include.
I agree with Amy ❤️ about Kassiane of Radical Neurodivergence Speaking and would add Lei Wiley-Mydske of Autistic Times Two and the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library as well ❤️
And too… I cannot help but consider that it’s kinda spectacular that 50 spots is not enough!! Yay!
Some wonderful people on this list!
Elizabeth “Ibby” Grace, who started the Neuroqueer website and either coined or co-created the term, belongs here, too. She’s an education professor, co-founder of Autonomous Press, blogger at Tiny Grace Notes, and incredibly kind person.
Thanks for featuring my work! I’m a “cousin” though, so please do replace me with one of the excellent suggestions people are sending you.
Good list. I’m familiar with many of those people’s work, but there’s so many more I’ve never heard of. Really wish there was an ongoing website or directory for this. It’s hard to find & keep track of autistic advocacy work.
Any list is going to end up missing folks — so, in keeping with highlighting/amplifying more folks, I would suggest as others who should definitely be recognized people like
* Mickey Jay Thomas / Jay Samantha / Mickey Valentine, who does awesome work as a sex educator at the intersections of Blackness, disability, and kink
* Kassiane Asasumasu from Radical Neurodivergence Speaking, longtime autistic advocate (already mentioned a few times, heh)
* Lei Wiley-Mydske, from Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library
* Tracy Garza, one of the founding board members of the Transgender Law Center, and a longtime activist for LGBTQ and disabled rights
* David James Savarese (aka Deej or DJ), the first nonspeaking autistic student to graduate from Oberlin College and living on campus (will graduate next month with honors!), and writer/producer/subject of a documentary on his experiences called Deej
* Nai Damato, who writes a lot about connections between trauma, blindness, and autism, and is breaking barriers as a hearing, Blind interpreter of American Sign Language, and a peer trainer/teacher of Blind, low vision, and DeafBlind students; also co-founded the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective
* Laura Tisoncik, friend and comrade of Mel Baggs, and one of the early resisting autistics who wrote for autistics.org and neurodiversity.org
* Jim Sinclair, co-founder of Autism Network International and its long-hosted Autreat retreat-style conference (and co-creator of the social interaction badges); also author of the seminal essay in the neurodiversity movement “Don’t Mourn For Us”
* Cal Montgomery, another one of the early pioneers, who wrote many groundbreaking essays for The Disability Rag / Ragged Edge Online
* s.e. smith, journalist and writer at Meloukhia and on many other sites, on various disability justice and intersectionality issues
And many, many others I’m sure I could name!
Thanks, Finn, for a great start.
Judy Endow, please.
Thanks. Slight correction though, to give credit where credit is due: I wasn’t a co-creator of autistics.org. Autistics.org was created singlehandedly by Laura Tisoncik. Later on, I joined up, then Joel Smith, then Phil Schwarz. (Besides lots of people who had or wrote for individual websites there, or who contributed writing. But we were the four sysadmins. Laura came first though. She put it up before I had a clue about any of that stuff.)
The one person who strikes me as notably absent from both lists is Jim Sinclair, their significance cannot be overstated.