This week’s Autism Success Story, brought to you by Autism Care UK, specialist in autism support services focuses on autism rights activist Jim Sinclair.
Who is Jim Sinclair?
Jim Sinclair, himself autistic is a famous autism rights activist. Sinclair first came into wider recognition in 1992, when along with fellow autistics Kathy Lissner Grant and Donna Williams he formed Autism Network International. Out of the trio, Jim was the only one who had an internet connection so he became the original contributor. In the early to mid-1990’s autism conferences rarely featured autistic public speakers, and were extremely unlikely to pay them for their work. Jim Sinclair broke the mould and was amongst the first to speak at conferences both at a national and international level. Considering he did not speak until aged 12, this in itself was a fantastic achievement.
Jim Sinclair is the author of Don’t Mourn for Us, an essay on autism that got wide spread media coverage including The New York Times and New York Magazine. Don’t Mourn for Us was presented at the joint Autism Society of America and Autism Society Canada conference, Toronto in July 1993. Although Jim had spoken at conferences before, they had usually involved him being asked to describe an aspect of what it’s like to be autistic followed by answering some questions from parents.
This time though, Jim had a message of his own that he wanted present. He had previously submitted the same paper in 1992 to the Autism Society of America conference. However, the then president of the ASA took the unprecedented step of personally instructing the conference’s planning committee not to accept the paper. Undeterred, Sinclair submitted the paper for the international conference and the hosts accepted it. As Sinclair himself says “The paper directly challenging the "autism as tragedy" paradigm upon which the conference--and its sponsoring organizations--were based”.
Jim Sinclair is also featured in the book Somebody Somewhere written by fellow ANI founder Donna Williams. You can read Don’t Mourn for Us here.