Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Open letter to Wikipedia about THAT ‘controversy’


Donna Williams diagnosis controversy

Dear Wikipedia,

I write with reference to this page


regarding this extract:

Diagnosis controversy

In a 1996 report, Kathy Gollan (a producer for Australian Broadcasting Corporation) raised questions about whether Williams is autistic or characteristic of persons with autism.[1] In phone interviews, Kathleen Dillon (a Professor of Psychology at Western New England College in Massachusetts) said she thought “Donna’s symptoms owe more to the abuse she suffered as a child than to autism”,[2] and Fred Volkmar, an autism expert and director of the Yale Child Study Center commented ” … it’s hard for me to know what to make of Donna Williams. Donna Williams’ books in my view, while very interesting, are not typical of the experience of at least the 20, 30 or 40 higher functioning autistic people that I have come to know fairly well”.[3] Gollan herself stated that there was “serious doubt about whether Donna Williams is autistic, and her books should be read with that in mind”.[4]”Autism – a special report by Kathy Gollan”. Radio National Transcripts: The Health Report. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 1996-07-29. Archived from the original on 2011-11-28. Retrieved 2008-03-11.

Gollan had no professional qualifications to challenge my diagnosis and Dillon and Volkmar had never met me. Both Dillon and Volkmar have since retracted their statements and apologised for the misuse of their comments. Two people featured in the interview were later edited out as one was found never to have been my teacher and the other objected to how her comments were used.

I was informed by my publisher that the person inciting the interview (Chris Eipper) did so following rejection of his novel by them after introducing himself to them as a ‘friend of mine’. Another person featured, Marcia Devlin, was already written about in my second book (not pleasingly) at the time of the interview.

All bias if not libel issues aside the interview was from a time before Aspergers was a diagnosis and the breadth of autism has expanded from 4 in 10,000 at the time of the interview to 1 in 50 people today. In other words the interview is outdated, biased, misleading and libelous (I never bothered to sue as ABC is too big and would have bled me dry dragging it out).

The ongoing promotion of this article on my Wikipedia page has lead to ongoing hate mail including threats, and several stalkers determined to ‘expose’ me as a fraud. As such it is more than damaging.

When dealing with breast cancer recently, one of my greatest distresses is that my haters would continue to post and repost this section on the Wiki page by which I would be remembered.

I add here for your perusal associated articles that back up what I’m saying:







and example of the sort of ongoing hatred it has regularly reinforced and incited:


plus, here are my full details of diagnosis:



What I’d like is to see the controversy section removed as there was no VALID controversy (ie by those who were

A) qualified to challenge my diagnosis
B) qualified and had actually met me (essential to any ability to professionally challenge a diagnosis and
C) were professionally qualified to challenge a diagnosis, had actually met me and were giving an objective opinion not motivated by any ulterior motive.

I hope you can do something about this.


Donna Williams

Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.