New York Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou could make history as the first openly autistic member of Congress.
Niou, a progressive Democrat who has represented parts of Lower Manhattan since 2017, announced her candidacy for New York’s 10th congressional district on Saturday in what could become a historic candidacy. She has previously been open about being on the autism spectrum and is one of a handful of autistic lawmakers in the US
Should Niou win the election, she would become the first openly autistic member of Congress and the highest-ranking openly autistic official in United States history. Historians have speculated that some historical politicians may have been on the autism spectrum, but none had official diagnoses.
she said news week On Saturday night, she wasn’t even aware of the historic nature of her candidacy. She said she was diagnosed with autism when she was 22 – it’s typical for autistic women to be diagnosed as adults, as women and girls are often socialized to hide their traits.
Niou said her autism has affected her ability as a legislator on issues like education, housing and transportation – and that more diverse perspectives in office lead to better policymaking.
“I think it’s always positive to have a lot of different lenses when we’re talking about politics,” she said. “I think I’m probably someone who understands that every single issue that we actually deal with and work on is a disability issue.”
She has never hid her autism diagnosis, but it was first reported in a 2020 Refinery29 article – which prompted an influx of emails and text messages from people thanking her for sharing her story, she said you.
“I realized I needed to be more open about it and that it was important for people to see it,” she said. “It changed a lot of people’s minds, and I’ve spoken to a lot of parents and I’ve spoken to a lot of kids who wanted to have that conversation — I was just wondering if I’ve been through some of the same things as them.”
She said seeing an autistic lawmaker in Congress would be “amazing to see and amazing to know as a kid.”
Niou joins a crowded Democratic elementary school in a redesigned congressional district that includes parts of Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.
She will be up against several high-profile New York politicians, including former Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rep. Mondaire Jones, who currently represents the suburbs north of the city. The district is deeply democratic, whoever wins the August primary will be the overwhelming favorite to win the November general election.
Niou announced her candidacy in the 10th District just hours after the card was released on Friday. A previous iteration of the congressional card was struck down by the court.
The historic nature of her candidacy did not go unnoticed after her announcement on social media. “Guys, she’s running. I look forward to the possibility of the first openly autistic congressman.” wrote journalist Sara Luterman.
https://www.newsweek.com/yuh-line-niou-running-become-first-openly-autistic-member-congress-1708882 Yuh-Line Niou is the first openly autistic congressman to run