Norfolk author wins national autism award

From left to right are Jane Asher, president of the National Autistic Society; Matthew Swindells, Ne

From left to right are Jane Asher, president of the National Autistic Society; Matthew Swindells, Network Autism Manager at the National Autistic Society; Laura James; and Kate Fox. Picture: National Autistic Society - Credit: Archant

An author and journalist from Norwich has won a prestigious accolade at the National Autistic Society's Autism Professionals Awards in recognition of her work improving public understanding of autism.

Laura James was presented with the Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum at a special ceremony Harrogate on March 7.

The annual event, supported by headline sponsor Axcis Education Recruitment, was hosted by Jane Asher and Kate Fox and is part of a two-day conference for autism professionals.

The winners were chosen by an independent panel of 10 autism experts who judged each nomination on their innovation, creativity, impact and sustainability.

Mrs James only found out she was autistic in 2015, after she had forged a successful career as a journalist, married twice and raised four children.

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Since her diagnosis, she has been a tireless campaigner for better understanding and acceptance of autism, particularly within the media.

Her ninth book, Odd Girl Out, was published last year and is a memoir on autism.

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It tracks the year after her diagnosis, as she looks back at her life and learns that 'different' doesn't need to mean 'less'.

She was the first autistic woman to have a memoir published by a mainstream publisher in the UK and has achieved significant national media coverage, which helped shed light on the under-discussed issue of autism in women and girls.

She is currently preparing for the paperback version of her book to be published on March 22.

'I was beyond thrilled and extremely grateful to have been given this amazing award,' she said.

'The interest around my book has been really heartening as I firmly believe the more we hear about difference, the more inclusive the world will become.

'Since I began speaking publicly about autism the response has been overwhelmingly positive and I hope it will encourage more autistic women and girls to speak out.'

Carol Povey, Director of the National Autistic Society's Centre for Autism, said: 'Huge congratulations to Laura. She should be very proud for standing out among so many high quality nominations and impressing the judges with her important work improving public understanding of autism.'

• For more information about the winners and the awards, visit: Autism Professionals Awards

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