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5 Autistic Women and Non-Binary People Who Are Changing the Narrative

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Autism spectrum condition used to be seen as something that affected boys. If women and girls were diagnosed, it was often far later in life, when they were old enough to seek a diagnosis themselves. In the 1980s, the diagnosis rate of males to females was 16:1. Today, 40 years on, the diagnosis rate is closer to 2:1.  This means more autistic women are getting the support they need earlier on in life, helping them to thrive.

One of the reasons autism is so under-diagnosed in women is due to the stereotypes that exist. Fortunately, some high-profile women are speaking out to challenge these stereotypes. To celebrate the improved diagnostic rate for women, and also to acknowledge the work yet to be done for full diagnostic equality, here are some high-profile autistic females and one non-binary person who inspire me the most.

Anne Hegerty


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Anne rose to fame in the U.K. in 2010 on the popular TV program “The Chase.” she was the first female Chaser and soon became a firm favorite among the British public, going on to appear in the 2018 series of “I’m a Celebrity…”  and presenting her own shows. In 2015 she became a Chaser on the Australian version of “The Chase.” Anne appears on TV regularly to talk about her experience as an autistic woman, including her difficulties with executive functioning as well as her amazing ability to recall facts and figures. I admire Anne because she is raising awareness of the reality of autism. She recently appeared on ITV talking about her difficulties with paperwork (she receives a lot of fan mail!) and has spoken about her experience of masking.

Greta Thunberg


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Recipient of the 2019 Time Person of the Year and numerous other accolades, Greta has become the face of the climate movement and changed the way we think about our planet. While the climate movement has been gaining momentum for some time, Greta has transformed the roles of young people in protecting the environment and become the face of action to reduce the world’s carbon production. While changing society’s view on the planet, she is also challenging the stereotypes and misinformation many people hold about autism.

Proving that stereotypes still exist, Fox News presenter Michael Knowles called Greta a “mentally ill Swedish child” (N.B. Autism is not a mental illness and is classified as a developmental condition). However, Greta is challenging this. She tweeted in August 2019, “I’m not public about my diagnosis to ‘hide’ behind it, but because I know many ignorant people still see it as an ‘illness,’ or something negative.” It makes me so proud that an autistic girl is changing the world!

Daryl Hannah


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Daryl is an American actor, famous for her roles in “Splash,” “Kill Bill” and “Wall Street.” Like Greta, she is also an environmental activist, having been jailed five times for various protests. In 2013, she famously spoke publicly about being autistic. This revelation surprised many people and helped start the conversation about what autism looks like.” Daryl’s high profile and her decision to speak out have helped to break down outdated views many people  hold about autistic women, including the idea that we don’t date. She had relationships with John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Jackson Browne, and is now married to Neil Young. At a time where there is almost no visibility of autistic women in Hollywood, I think it is wonderful that Daryl is talking about her experience and providing a role model for young autistic girls who aspire to the glitz and glamour of the big screen.

Isabella Lowengrip


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Isabella is a beauty entrepreneur and influencer from Sweden. In 2018 she won the Most Powerful Businesswomen award. Having an autistic woman in the beauty industry helps to challenge the stereotype that autistic women do not have typically feminine interests. In fact, until recently the “extreme male brain theory” was an argued explanation of the etiology of autism. Isabella helps challenge this, owning a successful beauty company and having hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, where she regularly posts beauty product recommendations, proving that autistic women can be successful in all fields.

Amythest Schaber

Amythest is an autistic YouTuber who uses they/them pronouns. On their channel Neurowonderful, they create content aimed at both neurodiverse and neurotypical viewers, spreading awareness and promoting self-love. Amythest’s channel seeks to empower autistic individuals through videos on self-advocacy, and also works to promote understanding and engage neurotypical viewers who are interested in learning more about autism. Their series “Ask an Autistic” allows curious subscribers to ask questions about autism, which they answer from their own experience. Amythest tackles common assumptions, with videos on eye contact and so-called autism “treatments” as well as videos such as “How to be a good ally” and “What shouldn’t I say to autistic people?” Most importantly, Amythest celebrates the joys and wonders of being autistic and refers to themself as “Neurowonderful!”

Please follow me on Instagram @Spooniefighter where I share more about autistic people who inspire me!

Image via Wikipedia.

Originally published: April 20, 2020
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