When autistic people are sidelined by stigma, everybody misses ...

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When autistic people are sidelined by stigma, everybody misses out

Business leader Charlotte Valeur explains why, in her 50s, she has spoken out about her autism

Maria Lally

When she was a little girl growing up in Copenhagen, Charlotte Valeur used to climb tall trees and sit in the branches for hours. “I loved it because the world couldn’t reach me,” explains the chair of the Institute of Directors, a former merchant banker, who last week became the first senior business leader to reveal she has autism.

For Valeur, the decision to publicly announce her diagnosis – which came three years ago, at the age of 53 – was a difficult one, but ultimately highlights why she decided to speak out.

“I was afraid there would be some board positions I wouldn’t get as a result of this,” she tells me. “I’m a single parent with three children aged 16, 19 and 21, who I need to get through university. That was my first concern, that speaking out would affect them...

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