Autism is defined as a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. Autistic people are more likely to be victims of crime than non-autistics and also fall victim to police brutality because police do not understand how to tell when an individual is autistic. These issues prompted Lydia Brown, a freshman in the college who is also autistic, to create legislation that would make training about autism and how to appropriately interact with autistic people mandatory for new police recruits and people are who already employed.
Lydia, from Melrose, Massachusetts, was asked in high school to combine her interests and skills to meet a need in her community. Being autistic herself she was very interested in autistic issues and was appalled to find that there was not much talk or discussion about autistic issues in the state or federal offices of the government. Lydia then met with her state representative and made the decision to write her legislation and filed it in 2009. The legislation did not pass so she re-filed it with two senate sponsors and two house sponsors and the bill is currently still in committee. Lydia has determined that she will re-file it in the 2013-2014 legislation if it does not pass.
Additionally, Lydia is very involved in the advocacy of autism. She is an intern at Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), which is the nation’s leading company run by and for autistics. She also writes a blog called “Autistic Hoyas” (http://autistichoya.blogspot.com/) which informs people of the many injustices done to autistic people and how people can get involved to stop them.
In addition to her advocacy work Lydia writes novels (so far she has completed four and is working on her fifth), is a member of Best Buddies, part of the Hoya Saxa weekend planning committee, North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN), a member of the Justice and Diversity in Action Living and Learning community, serves on the Outreach and Awareness committee of the National Youth Leadership Network, and has been appointed as a member of the consumer advisory council of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development.