What Women’s History Month means to me

Women’s History Month is an opportunity to recognize women’s contributions to history, society and culture. At Autism Speaks, we celebrate the women and girls along the vast and diverse autism spectrum, as well as those who support them.

In this blog, meet women in the autism community who share what Women’s History Month means to them, the women they are most inspired by and the legacies they hope to leave for future generations.

Ash D.

Ash D., 34

Women’s history month is about commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. Why is this month important to you?

It’s important firstly because I’m an African American woman on the autism spectrum and that makes me proud. Secondly, women in general have come along way with many struggles involving equality in the workplace, in sports and in life in general. Fast forward to today, we now have women playing in one-time male dominated sports, doing amazing things in the business world and reaching unprecedented highs in political roles. There’s a lot of progress to be proud of but we aren’t done yet!

What women do you want to recognize this month? How has that person positively impacted your life?

The one woman I want to recognize today is Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States! She is a shining example of just how far women have come! Vice President Harris has made history not just for women, but women of color as well! She has definitely motivated me to keep working on my goals as an autism advocate. I truly admire her and what she stands for.

What do you want to be remembered for?

The way I left an impact on the world through my autism advocacy. I want the world to know that it’s certainly okay to be autistic, and also help people better understand what autism is and how it’s not a disability but a great ability.

Read more about her autism journey here.

Autism Speaks Women's History Month - Beth

Beth M., 59

Why is this month important to you?  

Because women are equal to men and we can do all the same things that men do. I remember when I was a child, there were many jobs that they wouldn’t let women do. I was determined to do some of those things, like repairing machines, and I have been able to do them ever since!

Who would you like to recognize during women’s history month? How has that person touched your life?

I want to recognize Bettye Ruth Kay, who founded Bittersweet Farms, where I live. Bettye Ruth is a woman I admire, and I wish she was still here with us! She made a huge impact in my life by starting this place where I love to live and work.

What do you want to be remembered for?

I want to be remembered for helping to get Bittersweet going in its early days, and also for my many Special Olympics skiing awards! Bittersweet has supported me in all of these accomplishments, from skiing with Bettye Ruth back in the day until competing in state Special Olympics now.

Learn more about Beth in this Spectrum Spotlight.

Autism Speaks Women's History Month - Sophie

Sophie K., 24

Why is this month important to you?

This month is important to me because we are honoring the amazing women who have stood up for their rights and the rights of all women. They have paved the way for American women to have many rights, like the right to vote, reproductive rights, protection against abuse and also the rights of women of color.

Who would you like to recognize during women’s history month? How has that person touched your life?

Lady Gaga is a person who I admire a lot. She speaks out for people whose voices haven’t been heard, such as the LGBTQ community, people of color and many others. She’s authentic and has inspired me to be true to myself.

What do you want to be remembered for?

I want to be remembered as the first autistic woman to portray the character Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway!

Learn more about Sophie in this feature profile!

Autism Speaks Women's History Month - Mary Fay

Mary Fay N., 29

Why is this month important to you?

It’s important that all women, regardless of their jobs, status, color, ability levels, etc., be recognized for their individual strengths and achievements. I’ve learned that you can make an impact on someone’s life without even realizing it by just being yourself and listening. If we continue to lift one another up, we can continue to evoke change and make progress towards equality. That is why Women’s History Month is important to me.

Who would you like to recognize during women’s history month? How have those people touched your life?

I’d like to recognize my direct support providers and job coach, who I look up to and learn from each and every day. A special recognition goes to my grandmothers, Joan and Marge, and my mom, Peg. I also admire my female coworkers in the support sector at Community Supports Network for their ongoing commitment to their profession as they empower me and others on the spectrum. 

What do you want to be remembered for?

I would appreciate being recognized for my perseverance in working with my family and professionals to organize the resources that best empower me to reach my highest potential. I’d love to be remembered for my passion to raise awareness for young people transitioning from family life to independent living. It would also be an honor to be remembered as the founder of BRITE, a social and cultural platform for young adults making their way into an independent life. 

Learn more about Mary Fay’s story and her journey to independent living here!

Autism Speaks Women's History Month - Annie and Amy

Annie K., 19, and her mom, Amy

Why is this month important to you?

As the mother to 19-year-old Annie, who has autism, intellectual disability and difficulties communicating verbally, I feel it is my responsibility and duty to teach her about the power and capabilities she has as a young woman today.  As a woman, mother, daughter and sister myself, Women’s History Month represents inspiration and celebration of all of the many women who have gone before me and laid the pathway for the progress we have made to date.  It also reminds me to remember and be grateful for my many female mentors.

Who would you like to recognize during women’s history month? How has that person touched your life?

Annie and I would like to recognize Dr. Temple Grandin for the incredible strides she has made for autism awareness, self-advocacy, and to giving a face and a voice for so many women affected by autism.  Annie and I had the privilege to meet Dr. Grandin at a small book signing back in 2004. Annie was only 2 ½, had been just diagnosed with autism six months earlier and had no language.  I had a moment to chat with Dr. Grandin and asked her what I could do as Annie’s mother to help her with her autism.  She said “Just keep pushing her. She can and will do so much. Don’t give up.”  Guess what?  She was RIGHT!  Annie is a beautiful young adult today with so many skills and wonderful accomplishments. I am so proud of her and can’t wait to watch her future unfold.

What do you and Annie want to be remembered for?

I’d like to be remembered as a fierce family advocate for families living with an individual with autism. It began as my personal mission for Annie, and now I am able to do it professionally across the nation.  If Annie could tell me what she would want to be remembered for, I think it would be for being brave, and for being a teacher to others.  Annie has an amazing gift of touching every person that crosses her path and has actually influenced many of them to go into the field to help others with autism!

Learn more about Annie in this Spectrum Spotlight feature.

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