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Jim Sinclair

“The most central shared value of the ANI community is that it's okay to be autistic--it's not "wrong" for us to be the way we are, and it's not our goal to become (or to learn to emulate) other people.”

Jim Sinclair is an autism rights activist who, together with fellow friends, Kathy Lissner Grant and Donna Williams, formed ANI (Autism Network International) in 1992.  Being the only one of the three with an internet connection, Jim Sinclair became the original coordinator of ANI.

“We decided that our mission was to advocate for civil rights and self-determination for all autistic people, regardless of whether they were labeled "high-" or "low-functioning," and regardless of whether they were able to participate independently in our language-based network.”

Jim Sinclair has written an essay titled "Don't Mourn for Us" which has been widely distributed over the Internet. This essay has made Jim Sinclair well known for believing that individuals with autism do not need to be “cured” or “fixed.” Don’t Mourn for Us” includes:

  • It is okay to be autistic.  Autism is a way of being.  It colors every experience, sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every part of life.  If the person did not have autism they would not be the same person.  It is not possible to separate the person from the autism.
  • Individuals with autism do not need to be cured.
  • Autism shouldn’t be about mourning what never was (a “normal” individual) but exploring what is.

Sinclair was also featured in the book Somebody Somewhere by Donna Williams, which describes the formation of ANI.

Sinclair has a B.A. in Psychology and graduate education in Developmental and Child Psychology and in Rehabilitation Counseling. He has worked professionally with autistic children, adolescents, and adults, and has provided training seminars for teachers and therapists of autistic children. He also has extensive experience in autistic self-advocacy, having pioneered the use of service dogs for autistic people in the late 1980's; and produced Autreat, the first annual gathering of its kind designed by and for autistic people, since 1996. Sinclair’s writings have been widely reprinted and translated into many languages. He's a popular and dynamic speaker at autism conferences nationally and internationally.