Lydia Brown (viewer's left) and Quentin Masten (viewer's right)
Autism Campus Inclusion 2012 Summer Leadership Institute, Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Photographer: Lucas Vizeu
(Image description below body text)

My name is Lydia Brown.

I am an Autistic and multiply-disabled activist, scholar, and writer. I regularly speak at conferences and universities on a variety of topics related to disability justice, disability and asexuality, violence against disabled people, and autistic cultural identity. I am a student at Georgetown University (hence "Hoya" in the name), where I am actively working to engage interested students, faculty, staff, and administrators to establish, develop, and sustain a Disability Cultural Center on campus. Right now, I also serve as the Undersecretary for Disability Affairs for the Georgetown University Student Association, where I coordinate several initiatives around disability rights, access, and inclusion for the campus community. I'm also a member of the DC State Autism Advisory Panel (and its Advocacy Subcommittee), the Georgetown University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD)'s Consumer Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors for TASH New England. I've been covered extensively in national and local news, and I've also had my writings published in a variety of venues as well.

Most recently, I was recognized for my disability advocacy work as a Champion of Change by the White House on the twenty-third anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For most of 2013, I was a Project Assistant for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, where I was previously an intern. Before that, I was the Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow for 2012 at the Institute for Educational Leadership's Center for Workforce Development. I've also worked for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (which was pure awesome). I am an alumn of the American Association of People with Disabilities summer internship program and the Autism Campus Inclusion Project's National Leadership Academy. I have also served on the Outreach and Awareness Committee of the National Youth Leadership Network.

In 2010, I wrote proposed legislation that would require education about autism for all law enforcement and corrections officers in Massachusetts; the bill was refiled in both the 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 legislative sessions but has not yet been passed. My legislative advocacy has been recognized with an Honorable Mention by the Massachusetts Advocates for Children's Youth Advocate of the Year! Award and by U.S. Representative Katherine Clark. In 2011, I served on the Adult Services Subcommittee of the Massachusetts Special Commission Relative to Autism, where I contributed recommendations related to community training and criminal justice for the subcommittee's report.

I have also been active in lobbying against the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts since about 2009. I provided written and oral testimony against the JRC's abusive practices before the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services in a hearing on anti-aversives regulations and the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities in a hearing on various anti-aversives legislation. I was part of Occupy the JRC's National Day of Action demonstration at the Massachusetts State House and on the JRC's grounds in June 2012, and also helped to coordinate the protest against the GED electric shock device at the FDA's White Oak campus in Maryland in January 2013. At the TASH New England conference in May 2012, I co-presented on the history of the JRC and its practices with fellow activist Emily Titon and former JRC staffer Gregory Miller at the TASH New England conference. More recently, I organized a talk at Georgetown University in November 2013 by Shain Neumeier, one of the leading activists against the JRC and the troubled teen industry as a whole, on the history of abuse in the name of treatment.

Outside radical disability justice and disability in public policy, I am also a writer with several unpublished novels, and I'm interested in text-based roleplaying/collaborative writing, Sufi music, and Balkan political history.

Image description: Lydia Brown, a young Asian woman with black hair with glasses wearing a blue and green patterned plaid shirt, has her mouth wide open in an excited grin while pointing with both hands toward Quentin Masten, a young white person wearing a grey shirt with thin white horizontal stripes, who is smiling with closed lips toward the camera and wearing a mostly purple stretchy stim-toy with many stringy parts that can be pulled on their head. They are standing indoors in what appears to be a conference room with creamy or off-white walls and some wooden paneling on the lower part of the walls, windows to their left, viewer's right, some potted green tallish plants, some wooden furniture of table and chair visible, and a framed blueish/greenish blurry picture on the far wall.


  1. Hi Lydia, You don't know me, I'm a blogger and I've read some of your stuff (and I'm think highly of it). I'm originally from a small country town in Australia. A representative of an American organisation called Grafton Integrated Health Network that offers "solution focused opportunities for individuals challenged by complex disabilities" has gotten to know our community and wants to bring their not-for-profit services to our town. Our town is desperate for services and feel honoured to be considered by them. My sister who still lives there has been asked to join the committee and asked my opinion on the organisation (because I have autism and might be able to offer a unique insight or further understanding). Even though their website seems to read well (www.grafton.org), they are in America and I wouldn't know where to start with determining if they really are disability friendly in practice. Could you please tell me if you have heard of them and share anything about them that might be important for our community to know? Thank you so much for your time. Rachel

    1. Just clarifying for anyone reading this -- I followed up with Rachel by email. :) [smile]

  2. I came here from AVEN and now I'm curious...you're into Balkan political history? :) You'd better come here someday and educate this melting pot about the rights of asexuals and people with invisible disabilities.

    And I think your "most read" posts will help me learn a lot in terms of understanding my significant other even better, so I am very, very thankful. :)

    1. Yay! I'd love to visit the Balkans one day! I'm currently in Amman, though. Where on AVEN is someone linking to me?! :D [big smile]

    2. OK, now I can be me, I was afraid that the second sentence would make me come across as weird, while, in reality, we're really one of the most ignorant places in the western world - wrong people are the loudest ones, those who get things right are not interesting to the major media because the media strives to make money from controversies.

      Hmmm, the link. The topic URL is http://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/97545-what-ableist-language-means-and-why-its-bad/ and the topic title, in case you're not registered yourself, is What "ableist language" means and why it's bad. I was intrigued by the site name, then I looked around and realised that your blog covers the exact combination of topics I would like to learn more about, being a NT asexual in a long-distance relationship with an Aspie asexual.

      So, yes, one can say that I'm really happy this morning; not even to mention how much I appreciate prominent bloggers who stay kind despite their exposure in media and respond to people at this pace. Whoa. Thank you. :)

    3. I really appreciate your comments! I'm also super happy that you're trying to learn more about disability, autism, and ableism, and hope that you and your partner will both benefit not just from here but from all the other resources that exist out there. If you ever need anything, drop me a line -- lydia@autistichoya.com. The metaphorical door's always open. :) [smile]

  3. Hi Lydia, I am just going perusing through and thought I would share a greeting. I am currently a student at the University of Toronto, and I am just finishing up a paper that I will share some of what you have here on. I like what I have found. I get stuck writing, and frustrated that I will not be able to come up with anything new to add to what has already been said. Fortunately enough for me I feel inspired today, and some of that is thanks to you. Nice to read fresh perspectives lathered in an honest point of view. Have a great day. Carla

    1. Hi Carla! Thanks so much for posting this comment! I would love to read your paper if you're willing to share -- my email is lydia@autistichoya.com!

  4. Hello Lydia,

    My name is Teresa Sabga. I am a freelance journalist studying at Syracuse University.

    This December, I found a mass the size of a cantaloupe in my lung. Knowing that my situation was uncommon, I began writing about my journey on the Internet. I didn't want pity. I simply wanted support. I used social media to express my feelings without having to burden my family and friends.

    I'd like to write a feature for Glamour magazine that explores the way the Internet has changed the way we view illnesses, both visible and invisible, and how its changed our acceptance of grief and death, using examples of multiple case studies, and gathering different viewpoints from medical professors, professionals and doctors who study this trend regarding HIV/AIDS, autism and mental illnesses.

    I'd love to interview you sometime next week, if possible. It should only take 30 minutes (probably less) and I strongly believe that hearing your opinion would only benefit my story.

    Please email me at tmsabga@syr.edu.

    Thank you for your time and patience. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    All the best,
    Teresa Sabga​​​​​​​​​

    1. Hi Teresa! I sent you an email, so you should be able to reply to me directly there. Thanks!


If you are having difficulty commenting, try using the Name/URL option instead to avoid logging into any third-party service.