In the context of autism, an advocate is someone who fights for the rights of autistic people and to change widely held misconceptions about autism. We are likely to be autistic ourselves and are empowered by our genuine ability to understand the challenges that we face. Advocacy takes many forms, from publishing in print and online, educating organisations and employers, to acts of public demonstration.

There are a number of celebrities who are able to use their status to get valuable media attention. This could be actively campaigning for us, such as Chris Packham or just the very fact that these people are respected, successful people that are happy to discuss being autistic (though many seem to continue to use Asperger’s) in interviews could be seen as a form of advocacy – Greta Thunberg, Elon Musk, Tom Malone Jr (Gogglebox), Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah, Susan Boyle.

If we self-advocate we speak for ourselves, insist on making our authentic voices heard. The Twitter hashtag actuallyautistic is an example of self-advocacy.

The next type of advocate is not autistic but would consider themself an advocate if they are speaking up on behalf of an autistic person, a family member, for instance.with the support of autistic people. This is a controversial issue. Many autistic people prefer to refer to neurotypical people who champion our cause, dispel the myths etc, as our allies.

Advocates really help to reduce stigma and stereotypes of neurodivergent people.