Harriet Tubman: Neurodivergent Black Excellence

Editor's note: This article is the first of a four part series highlighting Black and neurodivergent leaders and historical figures, in honor Black History Month. Each leader was selected by Finn Gardiner, a contemporary Black and Autistic leader and scholar. Harriet Tubman is widely known as a brave Black woman who led herself and hundreds of other slaves to freedom through the loose network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. What is less known, however, is that Tubman was also disabled and neurodivergent. Born Araminta Ross, Tubman was born on a relatively small plantation at the beginning of the 19th century. Tubman took her husband’s surname upon marriage and changed her first name to Harriet around the same time. From the age of five, Tubman was forced to perform strenuous tasks for other slaveholding households, including looking after other families’ children, trapping muskrats, and other work that would be stressful … Continue Reading ››

Humanity & Inclusion becomes new name of Handicap International

Humanity & Inclusion became the new name of Handicap International’s global network today. The organization, which shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to ban anti-personnel landmines, implements more than 300 emergency and development projects in about 60 countries per year.

New name. New logo.

  • ‘Humanity & Inclusion’ expresses one of the organization’s central values, humanity. This is reflected in a benevolent and empathic approach to the organization’s actions, close proximity with its beneficiaries, and a deep respect for each person’s individuality.
  • “’Inclusion’ reflects one of the core ambitions that has driven our actions for 35 years: the inclusion of people with disabilities and vulnerable people who are so often overlooked,” said Jeff Meer, Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion in the U.S. “We value difference and fight exclusion. This name helps to show that.”
  • It means ensuring that everyone has a place in the community while respecting each … Continue Reading ››

Lack of Racial Diversity Highlighted at Autism Meeting

Last week, the quarterly Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee meeting took place. IACC is a government advisory panel responsible for setting federal research priorities. A thread running throughout the six hour meeting was representation and diversity, or lack thereof, both  in autism community leadership positions and within IACC itself. In many ways, the sessions were a string of events demonstrating not only the need for more autistic representation, but the need for racial diversity. There are currently only two autistic members of IACC. A third autistic member, Amy Goodman, stepped down in 2017. Similarly, IACC's membership is almost entirely white. Dr. Marcella Ronyak, IACC member and Deputy Director of the Division of Behavioral Health for the Indian Health Service, gave the first presentation of the day. She began by asking how many people in the room had a good understanding of what Indian Health Services is and what it is that they … Continue Reading ››

Ford Foundation Turns a Corner on Disability Rights

In 2016, the Ford Foundation made a commitment to social justice. Unfortunately, their early efforts were plagued with missteps when it came todisability community issues. In 2017, the Ford Foundation made a commitment to centering disability rights. The result of this new effort is still in its early phases, but the work they have done on disability so far has been nothing short of extraordinary, and there is even more to come. Speaking with NOS Magazine, Noorain Khan of the Ford Foundation was  candid about the process of growing much-needed knowledge on disability. "2017 was us diving in, meeting with activists, self-advocates, folks in government, nonprofits, and other funders... [We] met with any disability organization that requested a meeting. This shaped [our] knowledge and the knowledge of the Ford Foundation itself." "[The Ford Foundation] knew that we couldn’t do this by ourselves." They hired disabled consultants and brought disability … Continue Reading ››

#Oprah2020 Would be a Disaster for the Autistic Community

#Oprah2020 was trending on social media last week. Speculation about Ms. Winfrey running for President became part of the morning news cycle after her inspiring Golden Globe acceptance speech. Oprah Winfrey has a fondness or pseudoscience. This fondness has caused harm to the medical community, the practice of psychology, and to our autism community in particular. If she runs I will neither support nor vote for her regardless of her wide global appeal, her great skills as a speaker, her famed generosity or her business acumen. “Why you hating on Auntie Oprah?” A human right activist friend of color asked me. “I don’t hate her.” I answered.  “I am upset about the massive harm she’s done.“ Oprah gave us Phil McGraw, Dr. Oz, and most hurtful to my son and the autistic community, Jenny McCarthy. With help from Oprah, Jenny McCarthy introduced the anti-vaccine movement to mainstream America. Does Oprah realize the harm she continues … Continue Reading ››