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Friday, August 12, 2022

Yuh-Line Niou on Autistic Voices

In The Politics of Autism, I write:  "Support from the general public will be an important political asset for autistic people. Another will be their sheer numbers, since a larger population of identified autistic adults will mean more autistic voters and activists."  Previous posts have discussed autistic officeholders and political candidates in New YorkGeorgiaTexas, and Wisconsin.

At the 19th, Sara Luterman interviews New York State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, who is running to represent New York’s 10th District in the House.  She would be its first openly autistic member.

Is there anything about your experience as an autistic person that has informed your policy?

I’ve been shaped by being autistic. I have had to fight to carve out space for myself and others, from a young age, to get a seat at the table. I think that the disabled and neurodiverse communities have been left out of the conversation and policymaking process for a very, very long time. Even when we have people making considerations for us, it’s really different than doing it ourselves.

I think because I’ve had to struggle a little to make sure my needs are being met, I understand better that we should be fighting for something different. That’s why representation matters. That’s why we need to send people with diverse backgrounds to every different leadership role available. That way we can bring our lived experiences to the legislative process. The world we live in is often dominated by hate and exclusion. The only way that we can fight back against that is to be at every level of government. We need to become more visible to ensure our voices are heard.