This anthology is a labor of love (and sweat and tears) from over 60 people, from as young as 3 years old, living in 7 different countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
We are proud and excited to announce our list of artists, bloggers, poets, and writers!
Finn Gardiner and Lydia X. Z. Brown, May 2014.
Amanda Filteau is a biracial person, currently a law student. They spend a lot of time thinking about what racial identity means when you look racially ambiguous.
Angel A. McCorkle. Born and raised in sunny San Bernardino, California, Angel is a black freelance writer, film/ TV production major, and comedian for pretend. They spend most of their time playing with dogs, writing, and thinking of a third item when listing things. She has been known to switch pronouns, but prefers “they” if you’re not close.
Anmei He exists with her husband, their pets and not enough book space. She speaks three languages, reads two and has a foul mouth in one. It is her hope to one day speak and write with an ideal level of skill and sarcasm.
Bijhan Valibeigi is the creator of Time Wars Universe, the free role playing game of time travelling espionage Strike Team, and the world’s first deck-stacking game Supreme Command; she has also written the Time Wars Tales series, which includes the book Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship and the action adventure fiction blog Legends of the Order. When Bijhan is not pwning newbs in every kind of game ever made, hating on TNG for being objectively worse than Star Trek, or cheering for the BC Lions, she spends time at home with her partner RaeRae, three lovely cats Reza, Kya, and Jasper, and old cranky dog Elsa. For more Time Wars: Legends of the Order, visit TimeWarsUniverse.Wordpress.com. To explore the Time Wars Universe through games, novels, and more, visit TimeWarsUniverse.com.
Cindy Facteau (Fragmented Perfection) has served on the board of directors of the Autism Society San Diego since 2009, and is the current President. She is also a member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). She is an autistic mother of two autistic children, ages 18 and 8. Married and divorced before age 20, she has been happily remarried to a 13-year Marine Corps veteran since 2002, and served on the commanding general’s advisory committee for the Exceptional Family Member Program while living on Camp Pendleton.
Cindy is a child abuse, rape, and domestic abuse survivor. She was homeless as a teenager until placed in a group home after a drug overdose, making her a ward of the State of California. She challenged out of high school, began college at 17, and successfully fought against being conserved. She moved out of the group home before her 18th birthday, and has lived independently ever since.
Cindy identifies as a bisexual human being of mixed ethnic blood that secretly wishes she were a Time Lord instead…because she also strongly identifies as a nerd. Her more earthly interests include writing, music (listening to and playing), and frightening conservatives everywhere with her ethos and appearance.
Christopher Tucker has been a Social Media Ambassador for BreMobile Inc. since June of 2015. Before that he has held a number of jobs in different fields, including a stint at E-structors Inc. / Sims Recycling Solutions for one year and seven months as a Material Sorter. He has also done volunteer work such as his work with the UMD Campus Food Pantry in the Spring 2015 semester. He graduated from Howard Community College in 2011 with a degree in General Studies. He currently attends the University of Maryland College Park pursuing a degree in American Studies which he started in 2013.
Confessions of a Black Rhapsodic Aspie (COBRA) is a twenty-something-year-old Black Aspie male whose special interests span from instrumental music to card games, video games and anime. If you wish to know more about him, follow his blog at https://confessionsofablackrhapsodicaspie.wordpress.com!
Daniel Au Valencia is an actor – by life, not by trade – which he loves to remind people of because they often think of “autistic actor” as a contradiction like blind painter or deaf musician, even though blind painters and deaf musicians exist also. Strangers almost always perceive him as a white, neurotypical man, when really he is Jewish, Cuban, Autistic, and probably doesn’t have a gender. Daniel’s special interests include acting (what a surprise), sign language, and Autistic culture. His favorite stim is tap dance. Daniel Obejas blogs under the name Acting NT – http://ActingNT.blogspot.com.
D. Campbell Williams is a married public health graduate student, coffee addict and autism advocate. In addition to being Aunt to 7 nieces and nephews, she enjoys writing, travelling, and learning about social justice issues, particularly as they relate to the black community.
Dee Phair (sometimesdee) is of African and Caribbean descent, and discovered her autism diagnosis in her mid-thirties. She is currently focusing on raising her two bi-racial sons, and spends what little spare time she has singing in choirs, playing video games, and joining online political debates.
Deion Hawkins is a handsome, Black male, age 21 with autism. He is verbal, has challenges with attention and expressive language. He takes a private art class at Art Works Now in Mt. Rainier, MD he started in late 2013. With challenges in fine motor skills, he began using tracings. With expertise and compassion of his instructors, today he is drawing free hand and loves the art.
Ebru Çelik is a queer second generation Turkish immigrant and scientist from the UK. Her interests are: neuroscience, mental health, the social roles of psychiatry and diagnosis, far left politics: namely both structural and interpersonal power relations; other people’s life stories, sexuality, music and literature.
Eliora Smith is a white-passing Ashkenazi Jewish person. They spend most of their time thinking about time travel and wishing they were a dragon. While they do that they also write, tweet, make jewelry, and cuddle with their cats.
Elly Wong is a student at Syracuse University. They are Chinese-American and a child of refugees. Elly likes magical realism and disability, two things which they do not think are unrelated. They are interested in disability policy, democracy and disability, and fictional characters with strange brains and strange genders.
Emily Pate is an autistic TV/sketch writer, actress and mother to a fabulous autistic boy. They live in San Diego. Think DIEHARD, but with a single mom living in California. Just kidding, she’s never seen DIEHARD. Is the main character a single mom? Because she might watch that. Emily spends her days working, devouring film; tv; and internet articles, going on adventures with her kiddo, writing, and procrastinating writing. It’s really more like FRANCES HA, but if she had a kid, and it wasn’t set in New York. She runs a spoof blog and is working on a dramedy series. You can read her funnies at ameliaflor.wordpress.com and connect with her on twitter @msemilymarie.
Emma Rosenthal is an artist, writer, educator, urban farmer, human rights activist, and award winning emerging photographer, living in Southern California. Her work combines art, activism, education and grassroots mobilization and is impassioned, sensual, political, life affirming and powerful. She explores the use of art and literary expression to elicit an ethos more compelling than dogma and ideological discourse, providing new paradigms for community, communion, connection and human transformation. As a person with a disability she is confined, not by her disability but by the narrow and marginalizing attitudes and structures of the society at large.
She has been a featured poet and speaker throughout Southern California at a variety of venues and programs including; The Arab-American Festival, Highways Performance Space, The Autry Museum, Barnes and Nobel, Poetic License, Borders/Pasadena, Beyond Baroque, Freedom Fries Follies (a fundraiser for The Center for the Study of Political Graphics), KPFK, Arts in Action, Chafey College, UC Irvine, Pasadena City College and Hyperpoets.
Her work has appeared in several publications including Lilith Magazine, The Pasadena Star News, The San Gabriel Tribune, The San Gabriel Valley Quarterly, LoudMouth Magazine (CSLA), Muse Apprentice Guild and the following anthologies: Spectrum: An Anthology of Southern California Poets (Spectrum Publishing 2015), Dreaming in Public, Building the Occupy Movement (World Changing Press, 2012), Shifting Sands, Jewish-American Women Speak Out Against the Occupation (CreateSpace Independent Publishing PlatformS2015), Coloring Book; An Eclectic Anthology of Multicultural Writers (Rattlecat Press, 2003). Her work has shown in several galleries in the Southern California area, including 135 A Collective Exhibition, the Galleries at Whittier College (Light Among Shadows: Human Rights Heroes), and Pasadena City College, as well as Beans and Leaves Coffeehouse in Covina, CA.
Emmalia Harrington is a multiracial cisgendered non cissexual autistic woman. She’s still surprised that she’s an adult, which isn’t as scary as others have said. She’s making forays into being a published author and is happy to contribute to this book.
Miss Fabien is a British and Afro Caribbean singer and songwriter who enjoys spoken word, anime watching, and Xbox playing. She is also a support worker.
Finn Gardiner is a queer, black, autistic community activist of West Indian and Black American descent. He holds a degree in sociology from Tufts University, and has extensive experience with community advocacy, peer education, and activism, primarily in the disability and LGBTQ+ rights sphere. His work is primarily focused on social inequality, the achievement gap, and working toward an intersectional view of disability rights. Finn currently works for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network as the Boston Community Coordinator and the Institute for Community Inclusion as the 2015–2016 Barbara Wilensky Gopen Fellow, and serves on the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Disability Advisory Committee. He lives just outside Boston with a black cat and an excessive number of books.
G.A. is a university student, of Latina (ethnically Mestiza) origin, from Toronto. She struggled academically and socially in school during her childhood, being bullied and abused by peers and teachers in the process, due to beginning school not understanding English, as well as not learning quick enough for neurotypical standards. Despite this, G.A. managed to eventually enter university through a bridging program after a disastrous attempt at college, where she was finally assessed and diagnosed with several disabilities, of which autism is among them. In addition to re-discovering a love of learning on her own terms, G.A. is also a nerd with interests such as reading, Star Wars, neuroscience, NASA missions, chocolate, memes, and chilling with her cat.
HarkenSlasher is a Filipino Software Engineer working in one of the top earning BPO companies in the Philippines. He went to a university somewhere in Manila majoring in Information Technology. While not geeking it out with the computers, he enjoys most of his day daydreaming, wiki walking and figuring out how the social cogs of love and relationships turn. You can find more about him through his site at neuroblending.wordpress.com.
Jane Strauss was autistic without portfolio for most of her life, being diagnosed in middle adulthood. She has always lived on the margins. Her identity is and has been as a middle eastern person who is not even welcome in parts of the middle east. She attempted to fit into majority culture and found that discrimination was alive and well, so she stopped that game. She is a lapsed thespian and techie, attorney in remission, parent, writer, activist and photographic artist.
Jen Meunier (Gzhibaeassigaekwe) is a two spirited, Algonquin, Autistic and disabled human and all those names give her feelings of fierce pride and gratitude. She is currently completing her second degree (in adult education) and has a long history of resistance within land defense and environmental/social justice movements. Her life work is writing, caring for people through hard times and creating spaces for healing. Current hand-flappy-worthy interests are coppicing, mournful folk music and Star Trek. She lives with two cats, a little dog and a LaForge-like human. Text is her first language, speaking is a distant second and Jen communicates best using AAC. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Msumba is a 39 year old bi-racial autistic adult. Her father is from Malawi, Africa and her mother is Italian. She grew up in a mostly white suburb of Boston, MA. She is a survivor of years institutional abuse, growing up in facilities since the age of 15. Besides writing and speaking about her experiences, she is a professional pianist and enjoys her family, friends, animals, Pez collecting, Lego/Nanoblock building and being outside.
Jessa Sturgeon originally planned to major in physics and computer science but quickly fell in love with philosophy after taking a seminar in the philosophy of chemistry during her first semester of college. Her favorite areas of philosophy are language, cognition, perception, and science. She is particularly interested in the effects of many philosophers in these fields either failing to consider how disabilities relate to their arguments and models, or else explicitly rejecting them as irrelevant outliers. Jessa was diagnosed with autism and other disabilities as a child. She is mixed race but primarily identifies as Korean-American. Currently studying law, she recently celebrated her first anniversary with her also autistic husband.
Joseph (Joey) Juarez was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of three years old at UCLA NPI currently the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Joseph was Non-verbal until the age of 10 years old. His early education included attendance in public education: Kindergarten- Special Education Program. Joseph attended Public Education (1st through 12th grade) – In a Full Inclusion Program, with the support of a one-on-one instructional aide with academic accommodations. He received the Academic All American Award, USA Water polo in 2006, Waterpolo Student Athlete of the year 2007 for Commerce Aquatics; graduated Whittier High School with honors and 4.25 GPA in 2008, earned UCLA Bachelor’s Degree -BA major in Sociology- in 2013, UCLA MA Graduate Student admitted in 2014 with a focus on Human Development and Psychology (HDP) Major/Autism Research. Department of Education, Projected Master’s degree/graduation: June 2016 and currently member of the Master’s Waterpolo team, West Hollywood Aquatics.
Kaijaii Gomez Wick is a poet, amateur mathematician, and crochet enthusiast living on the East Coast of the US. They are mixed-race, ethnically quarter-Venezuelan, and are working to become fluent in German. They appreciate cats, logic, mathematics, poetry, media, social improvement, and soft synthetic yarns. They are seeking a Bachelor’s in German and Mathematics, and intend to become a poet as a career.
Kassiane A. Asasumasu is a vintage 1982 autistic & epileptic activist who has been active this whole century. K is also Hapa, though people like to forget that until they’re called on being awful. Life goals include spending more time with cats and dragging neuroscience kicking & screaming into the neurodiversity paradigm.
Keara Farnan is an aspiring writer from Vancouver who primarily focuses on poetry, essays and short fiction. She has been a writer for the past eleven years, and only wishes to continue pursuing writing by publishing a novel, which she first starting writing at age fourteen. In Keara’s spare time she likes to hangout with friends, play guitar and bake.
Kelly Bron Johnson (@KBronJohn, @OneQuarterMama) is a Barbadian-French-Canadian (and dual citizen) who lives in Montreal, QC, Canada with her husband and son. She is an Autistic self-advocate and is working to educate workplaces on accommodations for Autistic adults, as well as trying to create a community of female Autistics working to break down barriers to female diagnosis. She works full time as a social media manager and you can find her on the Internet at almost any hour.
//kiran foster is 148 centimetres of mixed-race intersex qtpoc survivor disabled sex worker migrant liminal everything. an indian/chinese singaporean, a prison abolitionist and intersex activist in the context of sex-based imprisonment in aotearoa new zealand, and a very unsuccessful undergrad, they spend most of their time turning tricks to fund the trans safehouse they run, looking after their cats, and trying to sell their abrasive autobio zines.
Kristy Y. loves to draw and write, loves good food (BBQ is their favorite!) and cares about human rights and social justice issues. In their spare time they practice writing short stories and they draw pictures.
Legacy Onaiwu is seven years old. She is sepia, which is a different type of brown that is reddish and a bit lighter than brown. She lives in America but her family comes from West Africa. Legacy wants you to know that God made her gifted and autistic. It’s hard to explain, but she will try. God is the one who created the Heavens and the Earth. You can look for a book called the Bible to read and find out more or you can look the Bible up online. Gifted means you understand things faster and easier than other people do. Autistic is a disability that means you think, speak, and move differently than other people. Legacy’s favorite colors are purple and pink and she likes Roblox and Minecraft, books, toys, and creating stories and videos on her iPad. When she grows up she wants to make movies and video games. Her best friend is her younger brother Lukas, who is also gifted and autistic.
leylah is 15 a hoh lesbian neutrois girl who is iranian and white (mixed race!). leyla loves cats and social justice as well as a good meme.
Louise Thundercloud-Hills is a 59 year old mixed African/ native American woman, who is an activist with many issues. She is proudly autistic & differently abled.
Lucas Vizeu is an Animator/Writer from New York City. He is a first generation American born to Latin@ parents (Brazilian and Dominican), and identifies as Autistic and Afro Latino. Lucas grew up in Chelsea and Brazil, and went to Macaulay Honors College At Lehman College as a computer graphics and imaging major and a Japanese minor. Lucas has been involved in disability, immigration, and anti-gentrification activism in multiple capacities. He is an Alumni of the first Autism Campus Inclusion project by ASAN. He currently runs the animation startup Abstract Fish Co, making humorous and weird cartoons that people enjoy, apparently.
Maanu Alexander is 13 years old, autistic and a Nga Tahu tribe descendant of the Moriori People of New Zealand. He is also a deep feeling poet. Maanu sings Italian Opera and plays piano. Maanu studies Japanese at school. Maanu’s best friend is Aboriginal. Maanu’s father is Maori. Maanu’s step-father is Maltese. Maanu’s mother is 8th generation white Australian.
M.D. is a thirtysomething mixed/NDN autistic who has had more of a life than was predicted by many overpaid professional doom crows. Despite having attained a college degree and maintaining various interpersonal relationships, M. D. wonders if they have truly achieved whatever is necessary to be considered a Real Person (TM), or if any of it was worth it considering the additional hurdles that came afterward. You can probably find them somewhere in the Northeast, writing furiously under a blanket covered in cats.
Melis Leflef (Melissa Murphy). Born in 1977, to an Irish mother and Turkish father, Mel has been confused for much of her life. She is the autistic mother of at least one autistic child.
Mercedes Cibby Acosta is a Sequential Art student at Savannah College of Art and Design. They grew up with a Cuban Taíno mother and a White father, and were diagnosed with autism at the late age of 18. Mercedes frequently advocates on their campus for the inclusion of and accessibility for disabled students, especially those with neurological disorders. Their comic “Monster Girl” (with coloring by Krissy Baxter, another autistic student) was a project intended to heighten awareness of the struggles autistic people experience while interacting with neurotypical individuals.
Mikael Lee is a mixed race neurodivergent queer person–an disability justice activist artist & practitioner of magic. They are currently working on a book series for neuroqueer youth and adults as well as Disability Access Community Funds. They live in Seattle with their cat Philippe Glitter.
Nathaniel Hagemaster (Agony Myers) grew up as a white boy in El Paso, Texas and had to be reminded that he was a Chicano man when he moved to Central Texas for college because his identity as a biracial queer with Asperger’s has been confusing to everybody with himself included. He has been a Spanish and Neurotypical Language Learner for most of his life, but has not been successful with either of those languages as of yet. His drag persona, Agony Myers, is a more emotive but less filtered version of him who believes that she communicates neurotypicality and sexuality fluently when in reality, she dances like a drunk baby deer. Therefore, Agony is not a stage queen. The world of a stage performer expects Agony to be talented in that regard, and the nightlife expects her to like highly social environments. Agony, as something that sounds beautiful on the surface but means something terrible, is often repressed and only emerges during situations that call for a shallow and regimented performance on the face of something that is actually terrible–special occasions, Halloween, and in Nathaniel’s creative work.
N.I. Nicholson is the founder and editor-in-chief of Barking Sycamores, a literary journal publishing art, poetry, creative nonfiction, and short fiction by neurodivergent creatives. He has also co-edited Autonomous Press’ 2015 Spoon Knife Anthology and co-edited the Summer 2014 Issue of Red Wolf Journal. His work has appeared in NeuroQueer, GTK Creative Journal, Alphanumeric, and qarrtsiluni. While pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from Ashland University, he also blogs at The Digital Hyperlexic (https://thedigitalhyperlexic.wordpress.com/). He lives in Central Ohio with his fiance, and is in the process of regenerating.
Nicole S. Xurd (Shalese Nicole Heard) is an African American Woman on the Autism Spectrum. Aside from advocacy interests, she also is a travel host, lifestyle coach, and public speaker for anything Autism ans travel related- as an owner and founder of the website: AutisticTravelGoddess.com. In Shalese’s spare time, she enjoys water activities, shopping, amusement parks, and more traveling.
Ondrea Marisa Robinson is a young African-American autistic woman who is a serious advocate for autistic rights and loves to learn about different ethnicities and backgrounds.
Pharaoh Inkabuss (Timotheus “T.J.” Gordon) is an autistic self-advocate, poet/writer, and event photographer in the Chicagoland area. Pharaoh advocates for equal, fair access to special education, public & accessible housing for all, and fighting against police brutality among people of color with disabilities. He is also the creator of “The Black Autist” a blog where he discusses autism and disability acceptance among people of color, along with sharing his special interests (e.g., American football and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic).
Pretty Eyes Ellis is a multiracial person of color who identifies as having Native heritage, living in the Pacific Northwest. Besides being a writer, they are an artist and social justice organizer/activist who is proud to serve the poc, black, trans and autistic communities. Their writing ranges from personal stories/memoir to sci-fi, speculative fiction and horror, and they enjoy being prolific with their pieces. They are a member of Lions Main Art Collective.
Rhonda G. is former academic, and current president and lead clinician at her agency that empowers people on the spectrum and those with other disabilities to lead lives they find meaningful. Like other Autistic parents, she self-diagnosed during her daughter’s diagnostic process. She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, two daughters, and grandson. Although not fully public with her autism diagnosis, she does find it incredibly helpful in her clinical work, and often divulges her status to many of the young people with whom she works. She is compelled by the work of neurodiversity activists, which has inspired her to create clinical practices that embrace neurodiversity and are based on the presumption of competence. She is developing empowerment-based methodologies of clinical practice that will directly challenge the medical-model of disability and the deficit-focused imperative that epitomizes the vast majority of therapeutic approaches for disabled populations. Her most meaningful professional moments are when families who have been demoralized by the medical and educational establishment about their child’s potential, and who have little hope for or connection with their disabled child, are transformed into engaged parents who advocate for their child’s right to inclusion into society.
Rikki Katherine Lee Moses, a resident of Washington, DC, is a 15 year old young lady on the autism spectrum. Rikki expressive and cognitive skills are delayed; however she expresses them in her love of singing and art. Her artistic talents are being supported by Art Works Now, Mt. Rainer MD. Rikki art allows people to see her talent without labels.
S Henderson is a multiracial woman in Southern California, writing has been essential to her peace of mind. She is inspired by both of her grandmothers, who were outspoken women of color and were really the only family she had who loved her unconditionally.
Shane Bentley, known online mostly as shaneisadragon, is a biracial agender asexual and recent college graduate. These days, they spend most of their time drawing dragons, creating pride designs, and searching for and reading diverse queer literature. They also enjoy sewing (they get that from their Native grandma), baking, and lavishing attention on their cat, Ombra. They’re just a bit annoyed that they can’t pace while doing most of those things.
Shondolyn Gibson is a nerdy black woman who is obsessed with music, spiders and justice. She is also bisexual and autistic. She will lecture you about the cuteness of spiders and why you shouldn’t be afraid of them.
Stephan B. is a dark-skinned Puerto-Rican male, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was young. He just submitted a couple things he had written before, because he really wants to help break down barriers for people with autism. He really loved the idea of anthologies and wanted to contribute.
Taiyo Brown lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His racial/ethnic heritage has African, European, and Indigenous (Métis) roots and his name is “sun” in Japanese.
Vivie Bella is a young spectrum princess who started writing short stories like “K O O K Y M A K A” at age 3 and now at age 5 can read at a 5th grade level. She is a Sicilian New Yorker who lives part-time in Maui. She lives, laughs and loves aloha spirit. Her enlightened viewpoint in writing allows neurotypicals to step into her world and see it through her eyes. Autism make her wonderfully different. She is charismatic, creative, and witty. She enjoys playing piano and being in show business as well. She collects vintage dolls and drives an ATV jeep.
Yasmin Khoshnood is a junior at UIC, an aspiring disability rights activist and future language interpreter. She was born in Chicago, Illinois to immigrant parents. She is of bi-ethnic heritage, Iranian and Venezuelan. She loves to read, write, learn languages, and travel. She is president of the Neurodiversity Club at UIC. She’s double majoring in Spanish and French with a minor in International Studies. She wants to become a language interpreter to help immigrants and people with disabilities.
Ylanne So is a geeky Asian disabled queer, policy wonk, and text-based roleplayer who is sometimes a disability rights advocate and sometimes a disability justice organizer. She speaks at least four languages somewhat passably, and sometimes manages to cook things without setting anything on fire. As both a roleplayer and solo fiction writer, Ylanne likes subverting the kinds of characters and stories considered “normal” or “default” by developing compelling non-normative characters in complex narratives. She prefers modern/realistic settings steeped in socio-political and historical context as well as darker, often grittier, storylines that emphasize the impact of both individual choices and systems of structural oppression on characters’ relationships with each other.
Yvonne Christian (Uncommon Bostonian). After growing up in the suburban Maryland area just outside of Washington, DC, Yvonne went to Emerson College in Boston in 1982. After graduating in 1986, she decided to stay in Boston because she endured intense bullying when she was going to school in Maryland and her family did not understand why she was so different which led to a lot of arguments with her parents and older siblings. She struggled with pursuing a career in Mass Communications and ended doing jobs she did not like at all and were very stressful. In 2002, she found out why she was having problems with career and personal issues when she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder. Since then, she writes her two blogs, Outside In and Uncommon Bostonian, to help people realize that Autistic people are talented workers. She uses her pen name Uncommon Bostonian when she writes on her blogs. Yvonne is also an artist as well as a published author.
Lydia X. Z. Brown (Autistic Hoya) (Senior Editor) is a gender/queer and transracially/transnationally adopted east asian autistic activist, writer, and speaker whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing. They have worked to advance transformative change through organizing in the streets, writing legislation, conducting anti-ableism workshops, testifying at regulatory and policy hearings, and disrupting institutional complacency everywhere from the academy to state agencies and the nonprofit-industrial complex.
At present, Lydia is Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council chairperson, TASH New England co-president, and Autism Women’s Network executive board member. Previously, they worked for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. While an undergrad at Georgetown University, they co-founded the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective, led multiple campaigns to reform university disability policies, coordinated the first disability justice lecture and performance series, served two terms as the first disability rights executive in student government, and served on the university center for excellence in developmental disabilities (UCEDD) consumer advisory council.
Lydia has been honored by the White House, the Washington Peace Center, Pacific Standard, and Mic. Their work has been featured in anthologies including Criptiques, Torture in Healthcare Settings, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, and other places including Films for the Feminist Classroom, Tikkun, Disability Intersections, Black Girl Dangerous, hardboiled magazine, POOR Magazine, Al Jazeera America’s The Stream, VICE Broadly, and the Washington Post. Lydia is a Public Interest Law Scholar at Northeastern University School of Law.
E. Ashkenazy (Project Manager & Editor) is passionate about Disability Rights and self-advocacy. She seeks to promote widespread understanding of the needs and rights of autistic individuals, especially females.
E.A. is the Community Council Chair for Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE). She is highly involved in Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), and served on the Community Advisory Board for the Partnering with People with Developmental Disabilities to Address Violence Project via the University of Montana Rural Institute. E.A. has also served on community advisory boards addressing disability and healthcare, as well as disability and pregnancy.
E.A. worked as the Chapter & Outreach Coordinator and Project Manager for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) for several years and is also a former board member. She also served as a member of the Screening Identification and Assessment Committee for the Oregon Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
E.A. has traveled to several states for public speaking events in order to deliver narrative-based presentations that focus on life on the autism spectrum. She has also attended multiple symposiums and conferences in order to facilitate focus groups. E.A. is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and is also a cochlear implant recipient. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and three children and also happens to be the mother of an autistic son.
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu (Assistant Project Manager & Editor) often thinks in song lyrics; the one that felt most befitting to include in this publication was: “Say it loud…I’m Black and I’m proud!” from the late James Brown. Morénike is a community advocate, writer, Christian, mom, and educator. American-born to immigrant parents, she feels that her role as a Black Autistic woman in a multicultural, multinational, neurodiverse, serodifferent family fuels her human rights advocacy.
Morénike has several years of program management experience and is involved in a myriad of social justice activism endeavors including HIV-related advocacy, disability rights, learning via technology, research, gender and racial justice, and promoting inclusion. She has also written for and/or been featured in numerous blogs, magazines, and other platforms.
Morénike’s executive experience includes the Board of Directors for Autism Women’s Network; AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children & Youth; Families for Justice; and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network; two consecutive terms as Co-Chair of the Global Community Advisory Board for the NIH Division of AIDS (DAIDS) funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (which is the world’s oldest and largest international community HIV clinical trials program); former Chair of the Houston Ryan White Planning Council and several leadership roles with NIH, HRSA and CDC funded entities as well as external programs.
Morénike, who has a Master’s degree in Education (with a concentration in Special Education/Autism and Developmental Delays) and an undergraduate degree in International Relations, founded a national project advocating for family-centered HIV care and services. She was also one of the organizers of the national “Million Moms March” protesting police violence and racial profiling. Additionally, Morénike is the founder of Advocacy Without Borders (a grassroots education, community advocacy and self-empowerment initiative); an affiliate editor and contributing writer for the I∩tersected project; a regional representative for the Arc of Texas Developmental Disabilities/Public Policy’s advisory council; and a contributing writer and editor for the “Respectfully Connected” global collaborative neurodiversity parenting blog.
Extremely active in online and social media advocacy and activism, Morénike has created several social justice projects, including the #JusticeForKayleb movement; the #SaveRyanWhitePartD Initiative; the No HIV+ Women & Children Left Behind Flashblog; the #EndVAWHIV (End Violence Against Women with HIV) Flashblog; and the #NotYourInfection: Mina’s Law campaign (against HIV stigma). She was awarded the “Advocating for Another: Health Activist of the Year” 2014 WEGO Health Award and the “Service to the Self-Advocacy Movement” 2015 ASAN Award.
When not online, she maintains involvement in various groups, volunteers, writes, and presents at state, national, and international conferences.
Morénike loves travel, music, books, and Thai food. She considers herself a “life-long learner” who is constantly growing and changing, hopefully for the better! She considers her wonderful children, both biological and adopted, to be her greatest accomplishment.