Lorna Wing, Ph.D.
There is no name writ larger into the tapestry of autism, worldwide, than that of Dr. Lorna Wing
To recount all of her
accomplishments would require considerably more pages than contained herein.
Instead, I have chosen to reprise my two-part interview with Lorna
from 2009 in which she
thoughts on a wide variety of subjects of interest to the autism community.
expressed in those interviews, Lorna
felt that her
greatest contribution to the field of autism was to consider that autism is a spectrum disorder.
Though expressed almost casually, that singular contribution-among so many others-is monumental.
It has not only stood the test of time but also changed the way we think about and view autism.
In a career that spanned well over half a century, Lorna
played many roles on the international autism stage-brilliant researcher, author, and co-founder of the National Autistic Society
in England, among them.
greatest and most meaningful role-and the one that led her
to autism-was that of mother to her
beloved daughter, Susie, who at the age of three was diagnosed with autism.
It was Susie who fueled the passion in her
mother that led to a body of seminal research and rich insights that underpin what is known about autism spectrum disorder to this very day.
One of the greatest pleasures in my life was getting to know Lorna-if briefly-in the last few years of her
My interview with her
sparked a friendship across the miles, maintained by e-mail exchanges and the occasional phone call.
My most enduring memory: In a remarkable turnaround, Lorna
interviewed me in Manchester, England in 2010 when I was an invited speaker-at Lorna's behest I am certain-at the National Autistic Society's
first-ever professional conference.
I treasure that experience.
More than that, I treasure the precious moments I spent with her
during that conference.
There is one part, in particular, that comes so close to my own feelings about the person I came to know, that I include Dr. Gould's apt description of Lorna
was an exceptionally generous person.
gave freely of her
ideas and expected nothing in return.
Someone once described her
to me as having "non-competitive excellence".
Professionals' arrogance was anathema to her
disliked jargon, fuzzy ideas and unproven treatments and interventions, and was not afraid to say so.
was, however, always incredibly sensitive to the needs of people with autism and their families.
Those words capture the essence of Dr. Lorna Wing
has left the world a better place for her
is, and will continue to be, sorely missed.
The interview by Dr. Diane Twachtman-Cullen, contains Dr. Wing's
candid opinions on a variety of topics important to the autism community.
It is reprised in this issue of ASQ as a special tribute to Dr. Wing who passed away in June.