Talk about role models. Who are your role models? How have they influenced you?
I've got a number of role models, both autistic and non-autistic. There are more but these are the ones that spring to mind initially. I'm summarising partly because I'm still using April as an introductory period for all sorts of topics, guided by the daily prompts, and partly because I've got to leave for church in just under an hour and then have something on this evening.
So, my role models:
- Amy Sequenzia - a nonspeaking autistic American lady who has written so many important articles about autism, autism acceptance, language use, nothing about us without us, Autism $peaks, cures and disability generally. She's also very vocal about injustice generally.
- Carly Fleischmann - another nonspeaking autistic lady who's gaining quite a following and has done a number of celebrity interviews. She clearly loves life and has, like Amy Sequenzia, achieved a lot, despite the challenges and prejudices of the world.
- Stella Young - a now-deceased Australian lady who was very vocal about disability rights and access, who repeatedly spoke out against the way disabled people are objectified and used for inspiration porn. She did an absolutely fantastic TED talk on the subject, which you can watch here and/or read the transcript here.
- Jeremy Corbyn - current leader of the UK Labour party. He's constantly maligned and attacked, ruthlessly, in the UK media, made out to be a crackpot, described as Hard Left by his detractors and enemies (even though he isn't as far-left as he's made out to be, and is far more true to the party's stances, origins and platforms than recent leaders) - a recent academic study found that only 11% of media articles and reports about him were accurate - and yet he keeps going. I don't agree with absolutely everything he believes in (anyone would be hard-pressed to find a politician who believes in 100% of the same things as them) but I agree with the vast majority of things. He speaks up for the voiceless, the discriminated against, the oppressed, the vulnerable; he fights injustice and inequality and for a better, caring society; he's principled and sticks to his principles; he can't be bought; he's a rare breed of politician.
- Jesus - I'm Catholic, Jesus was bound to come up eventually! ;-) He spoke out against injustice, inequality, greed, selfishness, exclusion and cruelty; he spoke for caring for everyone, for the the world, inclusion, selflessness.
- Pop Francis - for many of the same reasons as Corbyn and, obviously, Jesus; he's not afraid to speak out, to be controversial, to challenge the Church hierarchy; his teachings are MUCH closer to Christ's than some previous Popes. This is a man who knows what he's talking about, who has an excellent understanding of the world, who's not afraid to "get his hands dirty", as it were, who walks the walk instead of just talking the talk (he used to sneak out of the Vatican at night and work at a homeless shelter) and who is perfectly comfortable challenging those who bring the Church and humanity generally into disrepute.
They have influenced me to accept my Autistic identity, to promote acceptance of neurodiversity.
They have influenced me to do my best and to never give up, however hopeless a situation may be, that even one voice can make a difference, can help bring about change.