By Haley Moss, Zoom Autism Magazine Guest Editor
When most people think of autism, they imagine a certain type of person. This person they think of is the image we see contained within lighthearted stories on our social media, on television shows, or out and about in our community.
This person is male. Usually a young boy, a child who may or may not be verbal, who may have Asperger Syndrome, or it could very well be a successful man crafted in a writer’s room for television or movies. But this representation and knowledge of autism leaves much to be desired, and begs one very important question: where are the girls and women?
While the diagnostic numbers for autism remain higher than they have ever been, it has widely been believed far more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism. However, often with girls and women, they are misdiagnosed with other conditions, diagnosed with autism later in life, or never receive the diagnosis and discover it themselves through the vibrant autistic spaces contained within the internet. Come to think of the autism picture more clearly, it shows that autistic girls and women occupy as much space in this world as the boys and men.
Not only are autistic women out there, they certainly are not hidden in plain sight. Contrary to popular belief, autism is not a boy’s club. Autistic women are out there – and they are powerful women bringing change to communities and shattering the stereotypes of the boy’s club we have so often heard about.
The women you are going to be introduced to throughout this issue not only illustrate that point, but each of these women is incredibly powerful in her own way. I am extremely proud of this issue and extremely proud to share the sisterhood of autistic women with you in celebration of Women’s History Month. I am also excited to introduce you to their allies in government and their fellow disabled sisters. One of my goals with this issue was to introduce you to many perspectives and ways of being a woman – our writers are all from different backgrounds, abilities, generations, and occupations. I hope I succeeded and that at least one woman who generously contributed their time and insight with us is relatable to you.
The women you will meet in this issue have generously shared portions of their lives with us by writing about everything from activism and fighting for women’s rights and disability rights, to sharing their personal stories of overcoming bullying, comorbid mental health disabilities, and the empowerment of friendships with fellow autistic women. They have candidly shared the stories of finding their inner strength, the work they do, and the people they’ve encountered along the way – and each of us is better for it.
Our cover women are fierce advocates for women and autistic folks who have done work fighting to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in order to protect women and who have also been at the forefront of disability and autistic women’s issues in Washington D.C. Thank you all for gracing our cover, and a huge thank you to Sharon and Conner Cummings for arranging and taking the photos of them where you can see the inner and outer beauty of each woman.
This issue is dedicated to all the strong women out there. May we know them, raise them, love them, and become them. Thank you to the Zoom Autism team for embracing this issue and believing in powerful women every step of the way. And you, dear reader – I hope this issue inspires the powerful spirit within you. Being powerful is not about a title or accolades – being powerful is about the confidence you have, uplifting others, and the opportunities you have to do good in this world.
And to powerful women everywhere – go rock this world and show us who you are!
With love, and in solidarity,
Powerful Women – Issue 15
Read Our Cover Story Interviews
Actress, Producer, Mother, and Mom: Alyssa Milano speaks out for a better world for ALL women.
Julia, the executive Director for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, talks about the amazing, vibrant and resilient autistic community.
Sharon, Founding Executive Director of AWN Network, finds her power in her joy and personal resolve, no matter how challenging life can get.
Mia is an activist for inclusion and accessibility. She says “Stop listening to the naysayers and fight for what you believe.”
Delegate Hala Ayala
Hala Ayala is an outspoken advocate for women and families. She actively seeks out and learns from diverse voices.
Senator Tammy Duckworth
Senator Duckworth is a woman who has had a lifelong mission of supporting, protecting and keeping promises to the military, women and the disabled community.
READ MORE ARTICLES IN ZOOM ISSUE 15:
- From Feeling Powerless to Owning My Power by Morénike Giwa Onaiwu
- Advocating for Others by Advocating for Myself by Chana Bennett-Rumley
- Facing the Music and Changing My Life by Michelle DeVos, Esq.
- The Three Amigas: An Unexpected Friendship by Dani Bowman
In Every Issue
- Cummings and Goings: Finding Power in Who You Are by Conner Cummings
- #AskingAutistics: Have You Ever Been Accused of Acting MORE Autistic? by Christa Holmans
- Don’t Get Me Down: Fighting Autistic Inertia by Becca Lory Hector
- The View from Here: Starring in the Real-Life Drama as “The Good Anesthetist” by Anita Lesko
With Updates from Jacob Fuentes and Carly Fulgham at end of article
Big Question: What Advice Would You Give to Your Younger Self?
Discover more Zoom Issues:
- Issue 13: Family
- Issue 14: Trailblazers
- Issue 15: Powerful Women
- Archived issues on the Zoom Home Page
Listen to an audio version of this article