Whilst I was busy concentrating on general election predictions and analyses in Britain, thousands of miles away in Australia, one of the best known autism advocates of our time, Polly Samuel (aka Donna Williams) passed away on 22 April.
Donna Williams, born Donna Keene in Melbourne, most famously wrote books about her experiences as an autistic person in Australia, entitled 'Nobody Nowhere', 'Somebody Somewhere', 'Like Colour to the Blind: Soul Searching and Soul Finding', and many other non-fiction books on autism. I was inspired by many of her stories, particularly those from before my time since it is only in the decade I was born (the 1990s) that there has been proper recognition of the rights and needs of autistic people.
Artist Jeanette Purkis, also an autistic author, has particularly thanked her for bringing positive change into the darkest moments of her life, and it is from her I first heard the news of Polly/Donna's untimely passing.
Farewell, Polly/Donna. Even though I never met you or interacted with you, I can assure you as a fellow autistic rights activist over in the UK that your work will always have a place in my cerebrum (the amygdala, to be precise), as well as my heart (metaphorically, of course).
In memory of Polly Samuel, aka Donna Williams (nee Keene) born 10 October 1963, who departed this life on 22 April 2017, aged 53 years.