About

Photo: Young east asian person outside, craning their neck upward at a tree with brilliant orange/red leaves in autumn. Boston, Massachusetts, Fall 2015.

Lʏᴅɪᴀ X. Z. Bʀᴏᴡɴ

I'm a writer, dreamer, activist/organizer, and speaker/educator. Some of the many marginal identities/experiences I hold are that I'm autistic and multiply otherwise neurodivergent and disabled, queer, asexual-spectrum, genderqueer/non-binary and sometimes read as feminine, and transracially and transnationally adopted east asian person of color from China (into a white adoptive family). I'm also working to examine and challenge the privilege and power I hold as someone raised with middle and upper-middle class money privilege, a U.S. citizen and native English speaker, fairly light-skinned and mostly able-bodied (as hearing, sighted, and walking), raised in a deeply religious and engaged Christian community, educated in a private college and now in law school.

I do a lot of varied work in grassroots organizing, public policy advocacy, and writing focused on disability justice, intersectionality, and activism. (Here's a link to my full "professional"-seeming bio.) Right now, I'm the chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (which makes me seem a lot more professional than I probably actually am) while suffering through a special hell known generally to the public as law school (which is definitely a privilege that I'm there, but doesn't make it suck less), and pulling together the first-ever anthology by autistics of color with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu at the Autism Women's Network. I've worked with a lot of other orgs in the past (and actually still do), but I also do a shitton of work outside those formal channels.* I care about intersectional social justice, because I believe absolutely that justice must be for everyone, not just us.

(And just because most people ask, the blog name "Autistic Hoya" comes from where I went to college, where students/athletes/alumni are known as Hoyas. Blame a bunch of Latin/Greek nerds.)

Outside my work in radical disability justice and disability policy, I write literary fiction and do text-based roleplay/collaborative writing. I am particularly fond of making my characters' lives suck, and in fact, I teach crash courses on how to make write angst, grimdark, and bleak with a character-driven bent. I'm also very much interested in and passionate about Sufi music and Ethiopian food.

I am proud to have a fantastic partner, Shain M. Neumeier, a fellow autistic activist/attorney who blogs at Silence Breaking Sound, and is mostly known in autistic/neurodiversity community for their work at the intersection of youth, disability, and queer/trans rights and justice. You can learn pretty much everything else you need to know about me (and Shain) from this video. (Complete visual and audio transcription in the description.) Through my family (both chosen and of origin), I am the occasional human companion to a number of kitties and doges, who are all amazing floofs and flufflumps.

Contact me by email at lydia@autistichoya.com or by voice or text message at +1 (202) 618-0187. (Email and text message are strongly preferred over voice call, but I can take voice calls if needed.)


Photo: Me (young east asian person) with my partner, Shain Neumeier (young white person), holding hands while cuddling among Yogibo beanbag furniture goodness aka autistic heaven.



* As noted somewhere at the bottom of this page, nothing on this site in any way whatsoever necessarily represents the official positions or opinions of any organization I'm affiliated with now or have ever been affiliated with in the past in any capacity.

25 comments:

  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

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

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    2. Have you heard of the programs at the Lurie Center in Lexington and whether they're good? MGH wanted me to go there for non-verbal learning disability.
      Thanks,
      Kevin

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    3. I am somewhat familiar with them! If you email me directly, I can put you in touch with my contacts there. My email is Lydia@autistichoya.com.

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  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. :)

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    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]

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    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. :)

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    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]

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  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

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    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!

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  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​​​​​​​​​

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

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  5. Hi Lydia! I am interested in speaking with you about supporting self advocacy for students with disabilities on my community college campus, especially autistic students. My email is Sally.Gabb@bristolcc.edu. I hope you have a minute to communicate with me - your insights are invaluable. Thanks, Sally

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    1. Hi Sally! I sent you an email. :) [smile]

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  6. Hi Lydia,
    I am doing my PhD dissertation in Clinical Psychology on autistic individuals and their families as they participate in the Catholic faith community. I would love to include the actual opinions of the individuals in a separate publication, and wondered if you could advise me as to where I might find willing participants who would like to change the way clinicians pathologize autistic people. I believe it is a cultural difference rather than a clinical one, only as I have 8 children, one who is autistic and a husband who is likely. The phenomenological experience and the perception an autistic individual has of him or herself is what interests me most, since the research literature is pathetic and embarrassing. (What? No Theory of Mind? Are they really so arrogant as to believe autistic people have NO theory of mind? Geez!)

    Anyway, if you could direct me to a source where I might be able to find willing victims.,,er,,,recruits for the study, I would be very grateful!

    Best wishes and make sure you take care of YOU! You are REALLY prolific as a writer!

    Maria

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    1. Definitely happy to help -- can you email me at lydia@autistichoya.com? Thanks!

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  7. Hey, Lydia! I'm loving the blog, although I have a concern as a nonbinary trans person! You use the asterisk after trans--any reason for this? A large number (I'd even go so far as to say majority, though I lack the numbers) of NB and binary trans folks consider the asterisk to be not only unnecessary, but even detrimental, including people it shouldn't and further othering trans folk 'trans' alone already includes.

    Any words? Thanks!

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    1. I'm actually also NB, and I've honestly heard mixed things from other NB/trans people about it. I guess the most honest answer is, like disabled versus person with a disability, some language seems to make some people feel safer and more empowered, and other language seems to make different people in the same marginalized group feel safer and more empowered, and those sets of language can be mutually exclusive with the people in the community who feel one way feeling very othered and unsafe with the other language (AND one or the other or both can be misappropriated by people not in the affected group as a way to silence or other people in it). I think living with and acknowledging the complication and tension is the best thing we can do.

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  8. Hello Lydia,

    My name is Susan and I am the content manager of Clapway.com, a US based online publication. I came across your blog and really enjoy the content you have on your site. We would like to discuss a potential collaboration with you. Would you be able to talk to us on Thursday via Skype? If so, I am available at content@clapway.com.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Best,

    Susan Xu
    Content Manager at Clapway
    195 Plymouth St #6/17
    Brooklyn, NY 11201
    sx@clapway.com

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  9. Hi there I just encountered your blog and I am finding things very interesting so far. I am autistic and also an activist although I have not been able to find any other activists for the rights of those with autism where I live (New Zealand).

    As an activist I fight for many things, I'll be giving a speech at a trans rights rally this weekend and attending a refugee rights rally on the same day but in New Zealand at least I don't see any movement for change. I just wondered what the situation was elsewhere for the rights of disabled people and what campaigns were going on or other measures to try and bring positive change?

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    1. Hey Gowan, I'm excited to hear about your speech at the trans rights rally! I know there's an Autistic Self Advocacy Network affiliate in New Zealand, but I don't know much about them and I don't think I've ever personally interacted with them. I would bet there are disabled people's organizations (DPO's) in New Zealand, even if there aren't any other specifically autistic-led groups, and you could probably start looking for those orgs if you're looking to connect with established groups. I hope that helps some! Feel free to email if it could be more helpful.

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    2. Hi Lydia,
      I absolutely love your writing.

      Gowan I used to live in NZ and there *is* more than one autistic run organisation there - the one I know best is ASK (autism spectrum kiwis) http://www.asknz.net/ but there is now apparently an outpost of ASAN contact is John Greally who can be found on Facebook

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  10. Thank you for your blog. You are really helping me to understand my 7-year old son, who is currently being evaluated for ASD. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

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  11. Thank you for your blog. You are really helping me to understand my 7-year old son, who is currently being evaluated for ASD. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

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  12. Hi Lydia

    I have no idea how I can across your blog. The wonder and the power of the Internet. Each and every day I pay homage to Tim Berners-Lee.

    We have nothing in common. I'm a white heterosexual male originally from the UK, soon to be the wrong side of sixty and as able bodied as ever someone can be.

    But your blog really spoke to me. I admire anyone who's prepared to put their thoughts out there and seeks to make a difference. If only there were more people like you Lydia. If only I were more like you when I was younger. Oh the things I wished I had achieved.

    I also have a spiritual connection to Georgetown. It somehow ties my British heritage, love of learning and the unresolved place religion has in my life. It's where, for the briefest moments, past, present and future come together and it almost makes some sort of sense. I hope where you are now speaks to you in the same way.

    Study hard and be proud of who you are. And remember, you can always work a little harder.

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