11 exceptional women with autism or Down’s syndrome
Published: 06 October 2023
On March 8, International Women’s Rights Day, Auticiel is honoring 11 exceptional women with autism or Down’s syndrome.
Greta Thunberg is an Asperger’s environmental activist committed to the fight against global warming. At the age of 15, she protested in front of the Swedish Parliament against inaction on climate change. The same year she launched the school strike for the climate (
Skolstrejk för klimatet
), a movement that spread around the world. She gained international renown for her militant actions, including a speech at the United Nations, confronting political decision-makers with the existential crisis resulting from the climate change facing humanity.
Lizzy Clark is a British actress best known for her role in the TV movie Dustbin Baby. She played Poppy who, like her in real life, has Asperger’s syndrome. Lizzy was the first actress with autism to play an Asperger’s character. Giving his mother, Nicola, the impetus for a campaign against actors who “play the handicapped” (like the controversial French author of roles for deaf characters given to hearing actors). Nicola’s campaign, whose slogan is “Don’t play me, pay me to playyou”, sets up forums for mentally disabled actors & encourages schools to encourage disabled pupils/students to act.
Kate Grant is a 20-year-old Down’s syndrome model from the north of Ireland. She won the Teen Ultimate Beauty Of The World award. Kate is also anambassador for Benefit Cosmetics products, starting with Roller Liner, the brand’s iconic eyeliner. Her bio reads“Different is beautiful“. It’s an inspiring mantra that is illustrated more clearly than ever throughout his career.
Amanda Baggs is an American autism rights activist who has non-verbal autism and communicates with a voice synthesizer. In January 2007, Amanda’s Youtube video “In my language” went viral. CNN has written several articles about this video & Amanda herself wrote her own post about it for CNN’s Anderson Cooper blog. Today, Amanda has her own blog where she talks about her disabilities.
Madeline Stuart is an 18-year-old Australian with Down’s syndrome who has decided to take up modeling. She is determined to change the way people look at her disability. Maddy explains on her Facebook page that this role of standard bearer could contribute to “greater acceptance of people with Down’s syndrome”. The young woman didn’t hesitate to change her lifestyle, notably by joining a cheerleading troupe, but also by dancing and swimming, to feel better about herself and break into the modeling world.
Sarah Gordy is an MBE-decorated British actress, born in September 1976 with Down’s Syndrome. She is best known for her roles in the BBC television series Strike and Masters and Jacks. In 2018, she became the first woman with Down’s Syndrome to be awarded an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and the first person with the syndrome to receive an honorary degree from a British university.
Éléonore Laloux is a woman activist with Down’s syndrome. She is the spokesperson for the Collectif les Amis d’Éléonore, defending the cause of people with Down’s syndrome and fighting against the stigmatization of her illness. She is the author of the book Triso et alors! Highly committed to many political and social causes.
Dawn Prince-Hughes is an American anthropologist with a Ph. She struggled with fine motor difficulties in elementary school, and was only diagnosed with autism in secondary school. Despite her early struggles, Dawn’s fascination with animals, and gorillas in particular, led her to success. Working with gorillas at Woodland Park Zoo led Dawn to write one of her most famous books, “Songs of the Gorilla Nation: my journey through Autism”. She argues that working with these great apes helped her develop coping mechanisms to compensate for the difficulties associated with autism.
Henriett is a writer, artist and poet with autism. Born in Hungary on October 27 1980, she had difficulty communicating or making eye contact as a child. When she had to start school in 1987, all the schools in her town turned her down because of her communication problems. Despite these setbacks, Henriett learned to express herself through art. She began playing the flute at the age of 7, then the double bass at 11. By the age of 13, Henriett was world-renowned for her abstract, surrealist paintings and poetry. At the age of 18, she won the Geza Gardoni prize for her art and poetry. Since then, she has studied psychology and written a book entitled “Closed into myself with autism”.
Susan Boyle is a Scottish singer who caused a sensation after her astonishing performance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. That same year, Susan released her first album, which became a best-seller in charts around the world. In 2013, she wrote an essay for The Daily Beast detailing her diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. In it, Susan recounts being bullied as a child, nicknamed ” Simple Susie “, and being extremely relieved when she was finally diagnosed at the age of 51. She has been nominated for 2 Grammy awards & won the 2013 Radio Forth Icon Award.
Lucy Blackman is an Australian author with autism. She was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1972. She has been using typed communication since she was a teenager, becoming a freelance typist at the age of 14. Lucy studied literature at Deakin University and published her book, Lucy’s Story, in 2001. She is the first non-verbal autistic Australian to be published. Now an adult, Lucy gives talks on the importance of facilitated communication and how it has enabled her to express herself.