Spectrum News Magazine and Caveat, an entertainment venue in New York City, partnered to host Flying University – Women on the Autism Spectrum. Flying University is a talk series where speakers tell stories that have been “forgotten” and are not discussed by the mainstream media or universities. Spectrum describes the Women on the Autism Spectrum event as a discussion led by women that focuses on discussing experiences women with autism face. During the event, three women with autism spoke about their experiences with dating, interviewing, employment, and race.
Speaker Lindsey Nebeker described the unspoken barriers she faced in romance and love. In her talk, Nebeker says, “when you experience or witness any of the things being different can be exposed to bullying, domestic violence, sexual abuse, stigma, discrimination, it is so easy to tell yourself you will never trust in anyone again”.
Speaker Sara Luterman presented the high rates of unemployment among adults with autism with college degrees. She highlights the difficulties she experienced in the workplace and believes workplace challenges for women with autism may explain why the unemployment rate is as high as it is. Luterman shares that she wore a cocktail party dress to a job interview once because she wanted to look nice. Luterman adds that she was fired from a job within two weeks of starting and was told she “was a bad cultural fit”.
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, the last speaker of the event, Women on the Spectrum, discussed her experience as a black woman with autism. She introduces the concept of neurodiversity and explains that humans do not only come from different backgrounds but also have variations in the makeup of their brains. Onaiwu explores how autism diagnosis is different between races:
“White children are between 19-30% more likely to be diagnosed with autism than an African American child and they are between 50-65% more likely to be diagnosed compared to a child that is Hispanic or Latin”.
Onaiwu speaks about her contribution to the first anthology for individuals with autism of color. The book, All the Weight of Our Dreams, was edited by Onaiwu, Lydia X.Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, and the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network.
Take a look at the video of the Flying University – Women on the Autism Spectrum event.