As a new school board member, Joshua Brown is prioritizing special education in his rural Northern California district. But his perspective is unusual: He has firsthand experience with the district’s special education program — as a student.
Brown, 19, has autism and is one of only a handful of people known to have autism nationwide to serve in public office. He was sworn in on Nov. 7 to serve on the Shasta Union Elementary School District, a one-school district in the foothills west of Redding that he attended as a child.
“When I was at that school, I had some challenges. It was hard for me,” Brown said, noting that he had difficulty making friends and succeeding in class. “I am absolutely determined that no student should go through what I went through.”
One Texas lawmaker, Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), has spoken openly about having Asperger’s Syndrome. “[B]eing on the spectrum is not necessarily a barrier to leading a productive and successful life,” Cain said on the floor of the Texas House in 2019. “In fact, being on the autism spectrum can be a valuable part of our identity. I say ‘our identity’ because I too am one of the millions of Americans on the autism spectrum,” he added.