I’d like to recognize how the Autistic movement has changed.
Neurodivergent Feminist Leadership has done three major things for the Autistic movement:
A. Built Intersectional coalitions:
Since the rise of the Autism Women’s Network it has been safer to be an open Autistic Queer than ever before. The AWN has lead the U.S Autistic activist movement in a direction of contextualizing itself with other historical struggles such as the struggle against racism, sexism, heterosexism and cissexism.
B. Helped us to Speak on the Issues that Matter Most:
One cannot stress enough the inroads that have been made by Autistic feminists in building community with current iterations of the wider disability studies and rights community. Friendships that have spanned diagnostic identities are the major drivers in the recent Boycott Autism Speaks Campaign. Furthermore, successful outreach to parent-allies has been completed entirely by Autistic Feminists who put histories of abuse behind them and talked to parents of autistic people in order to have them support the Autistic movement.
C. Refined the Neurodiversity Message in amazing scholarly works:
Autistic Feminists also happen to be many if not all of the most influential neurodiversity scholars. AWN members have been key in expanding the platform of nonspeaking Autistic activists and in affirming Neurodivergent voices that speak to a wide range of struggles. One can consider Autistic Feminists as a major influence in the recent works of Elizabeth Grace and Melanie Yergeau.
I’d like to thank my fellow Autistic Feminists and to thank all of the great people at the Autism Women’s Network for giving our movement a life it never had before.
I have argued elsewhere that the Intersectionality concept offered by Crenshaw is not flawed but is not applied enough. I view the AWN as one of the more effective efforts at advocating for multiple identity groupings at once.
Certainly, Autistic communities and culture are still very sexist and heterosexist, but we are led against those influences, thanks to the amazing work of the AWN.
About the Author: Zach Richter is a scholar, debate coach, artist and activist blogger currently pursuing his Master of Science in Disability Studies and Human Development at University of Illinois Chicago. Zach combines experience as a researcher and coach in the world of policy debate with experience as an activist blogger to ask critical questions on issues of neurodiversity, dysfluency, sexuality and class. Zach is also a board member for the nonprofit The Autism National Committee and has played a role in many of the Autistic activist struggles of the past two or three years.