Menu Close

Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women with Autism

March is Women’s History Month and it is essential to recognize and honor the achievements of women from all walks of life, including those on the autism spectrum. 

While historically overlooked, women with autism have made significant contributions to society.  From acclaimed authors and educators to pioneering advocates and artists, these remarkable women have not only excelled in their respective fields but have also paved the way for greater acceptance and understanding of autism. 

Join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of just a few of these extraordinary women!

Jessica-Jane Applegate

Jessica-Jane Applegate is a Champion Paralympic swimmer. Her professional swim career began at 16 when she qualified for the 2012 Summer Paralympics. She would go on to win a gold medal for Great Britain and set a Paralympic record in the S14 200m freestyle. Applegate has now set over 80 British Swimming records, several World and European Records and won many Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals along the way. 

Applegate was diagnosed with autism as a young child. She had a hard time learning in school and was often bullied but found an outlet in swimming. “It was really nice to have somewhere I could be me and didn’t have to worry what everyone else thought of me. In the water I found peace because when you’re swimming you have your ears covered and you can’t hear anything, so I would relax my mind and everything would feel okay.” – Applegate Quote

Dani Bowman

Dani Bowman started her company DaniMation Entertainment when she was only 11 years old. Since she began working in the animation industry Bowman has premiered 11 award-winning animated short films at the San Diego Comic-Con. Her shorts have featured the voices of Joe Mantegna, Tom Kenny (Sponge Bob), June Foray, Debi Derryberry, and Stella Ritter, in addition to other voice actors on the autism spectrum. Well aware of the special talents of people with autism, Bowman strives to employ other individuals on the spectrum at her company. 

Starting when she was 15 years old, Bowman began leading summer animation camps all around the country. She is also a vocal advocate for autism and a cast member on Netflix’s Love on the Spectrum US.  

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle rose to fame with her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. Today she has sold over 25 million albums, has over 250 million audio streams, and over 650 million YouTube hits. Boyle was the first female artist in history to have a number one album in both the United Kingdom and the United States at the same time and, in 2011, Boyle made UK music history by becoming the first female artist to achieve three successive album debuts at number one in less than two years.

As a young child, Boyle was diagnosed with learning disabilities believed to have been the result of brain damage caused during birth. However, in 2013, Boyle revealed that what she had believed to have been brain damage was, in fact, autism. (Boyle was diagnosed with autism in 2012). 

Kayla Cromer

As the first actor with autism to play a character with autism in a lead role in Everything’s Going to Be Okay, Kayla Cromer is breaking boundaries in Hollywood. 

Diagnosed with dyscalculia, dyslexia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at the age of 7 followed by an autism diagnosis several years later, Cromer originally wanted to be a criminal profiler but became inspired to be an actor after watching Kiera Knightly and Orlando Bloom (both who are dyslexic) in Pirates of the Caribbean

Daryl Hannah

Daryl Hannah made her film debut in the supernatural horror film The Furry. Hannah has gone on to have a highly successful movie career with roles in countless iconic movies including Blade Runner, Splash, Wall Street, Steel Magnolias, and Kill Bill: Vol. 2

Outside of acting, Hannah is an active environmental activist raising awareness about climate change and sustainable living. 

Hannah was diagnosed with autism as a child and although it made appearances on talk shows and attending movie premieres a struggle at times (due to debilitating shyness), she did not let it stand in her way of pursuing her dreams of acting and activism. 

Dr. Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin is a prominent author and speaker on autism and animal behavior. Although not formally diagnosed with autism until she was an adult Dr. Grandin faced and overcame many challenges related to her autism early in life, including delayed speech and social difficulties. However, with early therapy and supportive teachers, she was able to excel academically and pursue her passion for science. 

Today, Dr. Grandin is a professor at Colorado State University and a consultant in animal welfare and livestock handling equipment design. She has authored several successful books and her insights have earned her widespread recognition, including features in major media outlets and a TED talk

Heather Kuzmich

Fashion model Heather Kuzmich appeared on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 9, and was the first model with autism to appear on the show. Kuzmich was a viewer favorite on the show for eight weeks and made it to the top five. 

After the show, Kuzmich signed with the women’s division of Elite Model Management in Chicago and Hong Kong.

Ladyhawke (Phillipa Margaret Brown)

Ladyhawke, the stage name for New Zealand musician Phillipa Margaret “Pip” Brown, rose to prominence with her self-titled debut album in 2008. Her music, characterized by catchy melodies and 80s-inspired vibes, has garnered critical acclaim and earned her a loyal fanbase worldwide. 

Ladyhawke was diagnosed with autism as a young child and credits her autism with her fascination with music.

Haley Moss

Diagnosed with autism at 3 years old, Haley Moss is now an attorney, author, advocate, and artist, passionate about disability inclusion and neurodiversity. 

In 2019 Moss was admitted to the Florida bar as a professionally licensed attorney, becoming the first openly autistic female attorney in Florida. Moss is also an adjunct professor at Taylor University in the Psychology department, has written four books, and been featured in many media outlets and legal journals. As a keynote speaker and activist, Moss enjoys sharing her personal experiences with autism, as well as speaking about the importance of neurodiversity and autism acceptance, autism and women, autism in the workplace, and overcoming obstacles. 

Dr. Camilla Sih Mai Pang

Dr. Camilla Sih Mai Pang is a British computational biologist, writer, and autism advocate. 

Dr. Pang was diagnosed with autism when she was 8 years old and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at 26. Pang attended Wycliffe College, Gloucestershire where she studied mathematics, physics, biology, and art. Dr. Pang graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in biochemistry and earned a Ph.D. in computational biology at University College London. Today, Dr. Pang works for a pharmaceutical company where she researches the computational model of disease in an effort to identify new pharmaceutical options for neurological diseases.

In 2020 Dr. Pang released her first book Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships, a memoir exploring what it means to be human, discussing social etiquette, relationships, and perfectionism. That same year, Dr. Pang won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books for her memoir. 

Kaelynn Partlow

Kaelynn Partlow is a registered behavior technician (RBT), an autism advocate, and appeared on Netflix’s Love on the Spectrum US

Diagnosed with autism at 10, Partlow began volunteering at Project Hope Foundation while in high school. Today she works as an RBT at Project Hope helping kids with autism develop self-acceptance, communication, and life skills. Through Project Hope, she is able to work with kids who exhibit skills and challenges that are similar to her own.

Partlow has published numerous autism advocacy articles and has been featured on multiple national podcasts and panels. Through social media, Partlow works to promote autism awareness and education. 

Robyn Steward

Robyn Steward is an accomplished author, educator, advocate, and musician who has dedicated her life to raising awareness and understanding of autism. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Steward was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Despite facing many challenges, she has become a leading voice in the autism community, sharing her experiences and insights through writing, public speaking, and training sessions.

Steward has authored several acclaimed books, including The Independent Woman’s Handbook for Super Safe Living on the Autistic Spectrum and The Autism Friendly Guide to Periods. Steward has developed innovative training programs and is currently a Research Associate at the University College London. 

Greta Thunberg

A Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg is known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation. 

Along with her dedication to climate activism, Thunberg has openly discussed her autism diagnosis explaining how it influences her perspective and fuels her determination in advocating for environmental action. Her courage and steadfast advocacy have inspired millions globally, making her a prominent figure in both the fight against the climate crisis and the autism community. 

Liane Holliday Willey

Liane Holliday Willey is an author, educator, and advocate, who has been instrumental in advancing understanding and support for autism. 

Diagnosed with autism at 35, Willey has authored several influential books, including Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome and Asperger Syndrome in the Family: Redefining Normal. As an educator, Willey has dedicated herself to improving the educational experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum, advocating for inclusive learning environments and tailored support services.

Wiley has a doctorate in education, specializing in the fields of psycholinguistics and learning style differences. She is currently the senior editor of Autism Spectrum Quarterly. 

Donna Williams

Donna Williams was a trailblazing author, artist, and speaker. Assessed as “psychotic” at the age of 2, Williams was not officially diagnosed with autism until she was an adult. 

Her autobiography, Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic Girl, offered a rare glimpse into the inner world of autism and became an international bestseller. Williams continued to inspire with subsequent books, including Somebody Somewhere: Breaking Free from the World of Autism which delved into her unique sensory experiences.

As an artist, Williams expressed herself through captivating paintings, further bridging the gap between neurotypical perceptions and her own experience with autism. Through her advocacy, Williams challenged stereotypes, championed the rights of individuals with autism, and left an enduring legacy of understanding, acceptance, and empowerment.

Alexis Wineman

Alexis Wineman is an autism advocate and the first Miss America contestant with known autism. Wineman was crowned Miss Montana in 2012 and won the “America’s Choice” award at the 2013 Miss America pageant. 

Since leaving the beauty pageant world, Wineman graduated from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama with an art degree and has continued to tour around the United States speaking and advocating for autism acceptance and awareness.