Yvonne Mikulencak is the Director and Founder of the Asperger Women’s Association (AWA), the first global network dedicated to empowering women and girls with Aspergers and Autism. She was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of 56.
She grew up on a Czech farming community in Texas, where she was able to play and explore in nature to her heart’s content. She realized that she was different at an early age, but attributed this to being from a different culture. She tried to fit in with her American peers as best she could, not realizing that her differences ran deeper than simply being from a different culture.
Mikulencak describes herself as a late-bloomer during her teen years, which is typical of females on the autism spectrum. She did not date until she was 19 years old, but credits her lack of interest in typical teenage pursuits with leaving her plenty of time to pursue her passions, which include art, science, theater, and sports.
She attended college at West Texas A & M University of Houston, where she completed her M.A.- M.F.A./B.A. in Studio Art-Art-History/ Theater-French. She is also the owner/artist at Yvonne and Company, which specializes in art/plant and flower design, and development (botany). She was also a volunteer diver for Moody Gardens Aquarium, where she swam with sharks for four years.
She is also a member of several organizations besides the AWA, including Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts, National Women’s Liberation Conference, American Society of Portrait Artists (ASOPA), Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), and the Texas A&M Marine Biology Department.
When speaking about her autism, she says,
“I’m glad I was diagnosed at age 56, because I was never labeled. Today it’s wonderful to get a diagnosis, because you can learn as a parent how to help your child, but all too often a diagnosis gives a label, and children are not given the freedom to explore themselves, be who they want to be, and allowed the freedom of becoming the unique individual that they are.”
Mikulencak founded AWA one year after her diagnosis, after discovering that there was little information available about autism in females. She says,
“Women on the spectrum were basically cast aside as being eccentric. Women on the spectrum are cast aside because they are able to fit into society easier than men are. It doesn’t mean they’re less autistic. Women have different brains than men, so we show our differences in different ways. We do not get the support we need in life when it’s most important.”
AWA’s mission is to empower women and girls with autism and Asperger’s, while educating parents and the general public on the differences between males and females on the spectrum. The AWA website includes a free forum where women, girls, and parents of girls on the spectrum can connect, share their experiences, and help one another with the challenges inherent in living with autism.
For more information about AWA, visit their website at http://www.aspergerwomen.org.