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Friday, December 29, 2023

Autistic Person Is MD Coordinator of Autism Strategy

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."  

Maya Lora at The Balitmore Sun:
When Maryland publishes its plan for addressing the needs of autistic people next year, it will largely be due to the efforts of one of the community’s own.

Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán is an autistic, Latina trans woman with over a decade of combined experience in the government and nonprofit sectors, according to her biography, who has written for academic journals on the intersection of autistic and LGBTQ+ identities.

In August, Democratic Gov. Wes Moore appointed Rodríguez-Roldán as the state coordinator for autism strategy for the Maryland Department of Disabilities, which recommended Rodríguez-Roldán for the position after a national search.

“We were really impressed with her work in government and nonprofits and really advocating policy changes for many underserved communities,” Secretary Carol Beatty said, adding that one of Rodríguez-Roldán’s most important qualifications is her lived experience. “Our department feels very strongly in how important representation is to the disability community.”

According to her LinkedIn, Rodríguez-Roldán previously chaired the board of directors for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a Washington, D.C., based organization run by autistic adults. Zoe Gross, the director of advocacy for the network, said when she saw Maryland was looking for a state coordinator for autism policy, she “was really hoping that it would go to an autistic person” because the conversation around autism has been long-dominated by family members of autistic people or non-autistic professionals working in the field of autism.