Top Stories in the Autism Community in 2019

Greta Thunberg Times Person of the Year

The Art of Autism reflects on stories that made headlines in 2019.

Autistic People Make News (in a good way)

Climate Change activist Greta Thunberg named 2019 Time’s Person of the Year. Greta considers autism her “superpower.”

Greta Thunberg Times Person of the Year

Other autistic people gained recognition in 2019:

Art of Autism board member Tom Iland becomes first autistic person to garner a Toastmaster’s Accredited Speaker Designation with his “Competently Communicating Autism” speech.

Haley Moss being sworn in

Haley Moss became the first autistic lawyer in Florida

In the United States, autism reaches the political scene

In politics Joshua Collins of Washington State seeks to become the first autistic member of Congress.

Autism and disability rights is part of the Democrat debate.

“Special needs children are going to become special needs adults… We have to be able to say to our kids… that you have intrinsic value because you are an American and you are a human being.” Andrew Wang, Democratic candidate who has an autistic son.

In the entertainment industry more autistic characters are depicted, although autistic actors still struggle for representation.

In June CBS pledged to interview actors with disabilities.

Michael Richey White, is the Los Angeles based autistic artist, who inspired the Netflix show “Atypical.” His actual art is used in the series.

The Reason I Jump, based on the book by Naoki Higashida, which explores the experiences of non-speaking autistic people across the globe, is a Sundance Film Festival selection for 2020.

Sensory-inclusive spaces become more common place.

Thanks to the nonprofit Kulturecity stadiums, libraries, and zoos across the United States are being certified “sensory-inclusive.” The Art of Autism profiled Julian Maha, founder of Kulturecity, earlier this year.

Carnival Cruises announced first sensory-friendly cruises.

More businesses seek autistic talent.

Microsoft, Specialisterne, Goldman Sachs look to neurodivergent talent.

SAP’s Autism At Work initiative expands to the U.K. (The Art of Autism helped curate their Diverse Minds exhibit in the U.K.).

The hashtag #ActuallyAutistic continues to represent the experience of autistic people.

The Art of Autism has over 150 #ActuallyAutistic bloggers who contribute to our website. In 2020, we continue to pay neurodivergent bloggers, poets and artists.

Here is a list of 14 #ActuallyAutistic Instagram influencers.

This Washington Post article shares How Listening to Autistic People Helped Me Understand My Son.

There are still many controversies within the autism community. Here are a couple that made headlines:

Is autism a medical condition or a difference? (Washington Post).


Julia, the autistic character on Sesame Street becomes embroiled in controversy. “Over the summer, Julia became embroiled in a controversy over a partnership with Autism Speaks, an influential and well-funded organization that some autistic adults say has promoted ideas and interventions that have traumatized many people in their community.”

Inhumane treatment of autistic people is in the news.

We can’t leave 2019 without mentioning that we still have a long way to go.

Autistic children treated with bleach therapy, seclusion rooms in schools, and autistic students abused by teachers are unfortunately stories of 2019.

The Art of Autism partners with Mainly Mozart for Unique Symposium and Art Exhibit

Joel Anderson and Temple

The Art of Autism had a newsworthy year as well. We were proud to partner with the Mainly Mozart nonprofit in San Diego for a unique symposium and art exhibit featuring Temple Grandin. The symposium featured many autistic people who were non-speaking (some used Facilitated Communication) as well as leaders in the autism community who believe in nurturing strengths

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