50 Inspiring Autistic People of 2011: Youth


In my introduction to this series, I said that one of its purposes was to make the case for my pride in my people:

What I want to do more than anything else to show you that autism pride is not an abstract concept.  I am proud of my autism because of specific autistic people-- their accomplishments, their brilliance, their compassion.  I am proud of my community because it contains individuals like the people on this list.

This last part of the series focuses on some of the young people who inspired me most this year.  I am ending with them because they give me more than pride: they give me hope.

Glenn Beck interviews Jacob Barnett.


Jacob Barnett

Jacob Barnett is a 12-year-old savant who is studying college physics and was interviewed by Glenn Beck.

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Wade is a teenager with bold plans for social action:

I want to change things for people with autism and start a Autism March to Washington DC. What I want is for you to support and join us as we march to Washington DC. I want to make a law that will have people with autism to be treated with respect and not to mistreat people with autism. I know you will agree because everywhere around the world people are being bullied and being picked on. I want all the organizations to come so autism can be free and not bullied. We are normal people too. Think about it. We stopped slavery. We can stop bullying of autism. I hope to hear from you real soon.



James Hobley talks about living with autism.


James Hobley

James is an 11-year-old dancer who was a finalist on Britain's Got Talent.



"Stupid Stop Sign! You're ruining the Christmas spirit!"


The Artist Formerly Known As Adam Funnyhead

Adam is a 12-year-old Aspie who did a very funny series of videos called Adam Funnyhead two years ago and is now back with a new series called Aspie Talk.



Leon Knight's "Shut I Down"


Brian Thompson AKA Leon Knight AKA Banana Man

Brian Thompson is a high school student who raps under the name Leon Knight.  He also got into trouble and caused a sensation at his school when he ran around at a football game in a banana suit.  Students were forbidden from wearing shirts to school that said "Free Banana Man" and The Washington's Post's "On Parenting" blog published a hysterical response.




Niamh is a college student with astonishing insight:

Don't try to turn me into you. It's disrespectful and selfish to try control somebody's lifestyle just because YOU aren't able to accept them for who they are. If I enjoy playing music for 9 hours a day, let me do it. I'll be in a far better mood if you do. If I like wearing loose, comfortable clothing instead of tight, fitted feminine outfits, let me, because I'll be completely distracted from everything and everyone around me if I have to wear what you like to wear. Don't think that forcing me to go to house parties will make me magically able to deal with them.

Don't tell me that I'm not autistic when I have been diagnosed officially by a professional with 20 years of experience in his line of work. Stop imposing your ignorance on me by trying to stop me from believing in my diagnosis. Stop telling me I look "normal" and that I don't "look" autistic, because there is no autistic "look", and considering the continuing increase in autism spectrum diagnoses around the world I think autism is actually pretty "normal" these days.