Dinah Murray obituary

Dinah Murray, 75, died from pancreatic cancer. She was a leading figure in autism research and an unfailing advocate for autistic people over three decades. Her keen insight was in the importance attention to the condition and the importance of pursuing interests.Murray, who is autistic and fascinated by language, read Uta Frith's book Autism: Explaining The Enigma in 1991. It spoke about an autistic person's attention moving to their top interest. This was her eureka moment.Murray, Wendy (later Wenn), Lawson, and Mike Lesser were autistic. He developed the theory monotropism or interest theory. The theory states that an autistic person can be polytropic. Their attention diffuses over large areas and multiple subjects, much like light from an lantern. An autistic person's attention is focused on their main interest, while a monotropic person is more focused.You are a child looking at beautiful buttons... You are a child looking at a beautiful button.This theory helps to explain autism's many features, such as the inability to use language due its ability interrupt attention. Murray says, "You're a child looking at beautiful buttons." Someone might come in and say cat, and interrupt your thoughts. Even young autistic children can lose their language skills right away.This theory was published in 2005 and continues to play a major role in autistic research today. It also chimes well with many autistic people's experiences. Kate Fox, an autistic poet, said that the more you learn about autistic people and their culture the more you will pay attention. It feels like a theory that comes from an inside-understanding.Monotropism was not received well in academic psychology circles. Although the authors were not psychologists, the theory was not supported by experiments. Simon Baron Cohen's 1985 research also showed that individuals need to have a theory or awareness of the mental states of others. The medical view of an autistic brain is altered and needs to be fixed continues to dominate. Autistic research focuses on brain wiring, genetics, and causation. According to Damian Milton, however, there is still much to learn about autism. They are outdated.Murray dedicated her entire life to improving the lives of autistic people. Murray was a London community support worker during the 1990s. She was shocked at the number of tranquillisers that were prescribed to autistic people. In 1998, she founded APANA (Autistic People Against Neuroleptic Abuse).As a support worker, she realized how computers could help autistic people communicate. She founded Autism and Computing with Lesser to advocate for assistive technology for individuals with communication difficulties. This was accomplished via the Mental Capacity Act (2005).Murray taught the distance-learning course on autism at Birmingham University from 1996 to 2013. Murray was a prominent figure within the academic community. She edited the open-access journal Autonomy, chaired the National Autistic Advisory Panel and played a significant role in the National Autistic Taskforce and PARC (the Participatory Autism Research Collective), which promoted autistic participation in autistic research. She also contributed to Ask Autism, an induction course for autistic people, and co-authored the AutNav app, which was developed by the charity Scottish Autism.Murray's passion was to highlight the talents of autistic people. Ferenc Virag was a gifted artist who communicated using other means. She and Lesser produced the 1995 video Working with Ferenc. It showcased his incredible computer animation skills. She was also a part of the wonderful video Something About Us, which is part of Rightfullives' online exhibition. She also supported Autistic Pride events.Carol Povey, National Autistic Society, stated that Murray's personality was a great help in her ventures. She emphasized how she never got caught up in the crowd or followed the leader she led. She was an intermediary between autism voices and large organizations.Dinah was born in Hampstead, north London. She is from a prominent socialist family. Tony Greenwood, Labour politician and housing minister for Harold Wilson was her father. Dinah's mother was Gillian (nee Crawshay Williams), a designer who illustrated and wrote the Make Do and Mend pamphlet in the second world war. She was also an early member CND. Clement Attlee was Dinah's godfather.Dinah was able to read since the age of 2. She and her older sister Susanna attended Byron House School in Highgate, and then the North London Collegiate School. Despite being very intelligent, she didn't do well at her A-levels. She attempted to study fine art in Newcastle but she was not interested and returned to London to become a copy editor at Penguin Books.In 1969, she earned a degree from University College London in linguistics/anthropology. She then married David Murray in the next year. The couple had three children, Bruno, Leo, and Fergus. They also became foster parents for Eddie ONeill.Dinah juggled raising a family and studying language, which she loved. In 1986, Dinah received a PhD at UCL. She was awarded a National Autistic Society lifetime achievement award in 2017.David died in 2016. In 2016, David died. She could live near Fergus, where she could pursue her passion for nature, photography, and studying lichens.Her sons and foster sons, four grandchildren and Susanna are her survivors.