I am regularly on the look out for autism and Aspergers heroes and more importantly heroines to share with my daughter (when she’s interested!) as role models that demonstrate she is just as capable of achieving whatever dream she chooses as the next person.
Temple Grandin is the most obvious ‘poster girl’ for autism but whilst she inspires me incredibly, she’s not exactly a 7 year old’s dream. To be very candid, my daughter remains unconvinced that she is a lady.
I’m not being a troll, just sharing an honest response from a kid. Be shocked if you like, it’s not very politically correct, but I believe Temple herself would understand the very black and white thinking.
…and then of course there’s Susan Boyle.
I am hoping no one will try to start a debate on that with me.
I’m not looking for a girly girl, we’re not “Do you wanna build a snowman?” here. We need some proper girl power. Enter the super sass that is Ladyhawke. Phew.
Quoting a new article – 14 amazing women with autism – on makers.com, she is:
…a New Zealand singer and songwriter. Phillipa has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, one of the reasons she believes she became so absorbed in music as a child. Phillipa was a member of various bands until she forged her own solo career in 2008. Naming herself “Ladyhawke” after a character played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1985 film by the same name, Phillipa has exploded on the New Zealand music scene. She won 6 awards at the 2009 New Zealand Music Awards and continues to record music.
And she is for me – alongside Jessica Applegate (British Paralympic swimmer), Heather Kuzmich (US model) and Lizzy Clark (British actress) who also feature in the article – representative of the best things that can happen for autism awareness.
For me, autism awareness is not just about helping neurotypicals understand how people on the spectrum feel or why they behave like they do; it should also be about helping young people with autism and autism spectrum disorder find credible, and frankly cool, role models to motivate them to achieve their potential.
This is a recent image from Ladyhawke’s tumblr/instagram:
Yes. Exactly. That’s why autism awareness is so important because it is so hard to get your head around. A beautiful successful woman who can fly around the globe singing to crowds of people who struggles to pick up the phone. I am grateful for her candour, for someone my daughter might be able to relate to.
But (forgive the repetition) she’s just one more unique story among thousands of different stories of autism, not everyone is like Rainman or my daughter or Ladyhawke, or like Temple Grandin or Susan Boyle for that matter.
“Autism” is as varied as “human”. Autistic people share traits, so do humans. Get to know the individual, ask them how they feel. You might find a hero(ine) of your own.