Peer Respite

A peer-run respite center is a non-clinical, completely voluntary service operated by people with their own stories of mental health recovery, trauma, hospitalization, incarceration, substance use, homelessness or some combination of these.

“When you’re in a psych hospital, they take everything — down to your shoelaces — for your protection. Then they slap a diagnosis on you,” Hart explained. “I got worse before I got better.”

Alternatively, the doors at the respite house are not locked. Guests are able to come and go to the store, their job, school or wherever they want to be.

“I think this would have definitely been a healing place,” Hart said. “You’re still part of the community and not on lockdown. In this space, you can feel the warmth, the encouragement, the safety.”

Source: An alternative to the psych hospital, run by people in mental health recovery – NC Health News

Via:

Stimpunks attempts the peer respite model on a very small scale, providing cash and respite along the lines of Afiya House.

Afiya strives to provide a safe space in which each person can find the balance and support needed to turn a difficult time into a learning and growth opportunity.

Source: Afiya Peer Respite

The house is intended to provide an alternative to hospitalization for individuals who are experiencing emotional and/or mental distress, and who feel they would benefit from staying in a community-based environment that offers peer-to-peer support focused on turning ‘crisis’ into a learning and growth opportunity.

The house offers individual bedrooms, community spaces (a living room, a finished basement, a meeting room, a kitchen and a sitting room), a variety of supplies (yoga, art, weighted blankets, etc.), and resource information for up to three people at a time. Stays generally range from one to seven nights.

Everyone who works at Afiya (as with the rest of our community) identifies as having ‘been there’ in some way. Experiences of various team members range from histories of psychiatric hospitalization to trauma to living in residential programs to living without a home to dealing with addiction and so on. No clinical supports are offered, but people who stay at the house have free access to the community where they can keep (or get) connected to clinical supports as desired.

Source: Afiya House (full version) – YouTube

The Stimpunks live at we affectionately call the “Irie Smial Preserve for Neurodivergents, Crips, and Burnouts”. We have a few acres of land with hundreds of trees and lots of breeze.

One thing we really like about the Afiya house model is that they provide caves, campfires, and watering holes so that dandelions, tulips, and orchids alike can find respite. Everyone has an individual space as well as community spaces so that they can progressively socialize according to their interaction capacity. Caves, campfires, and watering holes are necessary to designing for neurological pluralism and providing psychological safety. They’re necessary to positive niche construction.

The Irie Smial Preserve is designed by neurodivergents, for neurodivergents. We have space.

“Some autistic people’s needs will conflict with each other. For example, some autistic people may need the TV playing to calm down, as it can help to focus on specific sounds. But for others this may cause more stress depending on their mental state. Additionally, some autistic people may need to stim to feel relaxed and comfortable, or it may be involuntary when they are stressed, but noises they make (e.g. verbal stims), could really stress another autistic person out. I think the key here is space.”

Source: “It’s Not Rocket Science” – NDTi

We only have private, lockable space for one more person besides the 6 of us who live here permanently, so we’re limited to hosting one despite our sprawling space.

We’re less capacity constrained with our text-based warm line.

Peer-run warm lines – staffed by people who have lived mental health experience – have been shown to reduce loneliness and participants’ use of mental health crisis services. Additionally, a review of several studies found that digital forms of peer support improve the lives of people with serious mental illness by “enhancing participants’ functioning, reducing symptoms and improving program utilization.”

Source: Warm line gives peer mental health support – NC Health News

Stimpunks can do this only at a very small scale, and only occasionally as our high support needs family navigates our own ups and downs.

So, we would like to financially support those doing what we can only sporadically provide. If you provide peer-run respite or warm lines in the Austin, Texas area or elsewhere in Texas, contact us.

Emotion Matters in Alt Text: Text Descriptions and Emotion Rich Images

The relevant parts of an image aren’t limited to the cold hard facts. Images can make you feel a particular way, and that’s something that should be made available to a screen reader user.

“Emotion matters” really changed how I think about writing alt text. Léonie wrote a longer article on the idea, which I recommend reading.

Source: Writing great alt text: Emotion matters – JakeArchibald.com

So just what is a decorative image? It seems to me that one person’s eye candy is another person’s emotional link to a website.

A good alt text can conjure up wonderfully stimulating mental images. A friendly smile is the same in print, photo or wax crayon. Whether you listen to an image or see it, the emotional response is the key factor, so why should we recommend that these emotion rich images should be given a null alt text and hidden from screen reader users?

Perhaps it’s time we introduced another group of images: Emotion rich images and encouraged the practice of providing descriptive alt texts for them. If people don’t want to listen to the alt text, they won’t. If people don’t want to pause and look at the image, they won’t. In either case, it’s good to have the choice.

Source: Text descriptions and emotion rich images – Tink – Léonie Watson

So much emotion is lost with conventional alt text wisdom.

  • “One person’s eye candy is another person’s emotional link.“
  • “It’s time we introduced another group of images: Emotion rich images and encouraged the practice of providing descriptive alt texts for them.”

That’s a welcome reframing of decorative images that I’ll apply going forward.

Via: A Case for Accessibility Statements in App Stores | Accessibiity Weekly

Inclusion Through Options: There is no one size fits all when it comes to accessibility.

While you can read an in-detail breakdown of all accessibility settings in the game, what The Last of Us 2 creators did extremely well was not succumbing to the idea of ‘accessibility modes’.

“‘We want to be able to dig into the menus, fine-tune things, adjust things, really get into the nitty-gritty of what these options mean.'”

Making all of the accessibility settings fully customizable and open to fine-tuning by the player allowed everyone to find the perfect combination of options for their individual access needs. It removed barriers for many who wouldn’t be able to experience the game at all otherwise, but also allowed others to just make their gameplay experience more comfortable.

If Naughty Dog made the game high contrast for all the players and called it a day, it would probably not be dubbed ‘the most accessible game ever.’

There is no one size fits all when it comes to accessibility. Instead of choosing who to prioritize and counting tradeoffs for certain choices like universal high contrast mode, the obvious solution would be to let the user choose.

Similar approach can be taken with any accessibility work at a large scale. There is no blanket ‘accessibility mode’ or ‘accessibility setting’ (save for basic compliance) that will fit everyone’s needs. Giving the user full control to set up what works best for them is always the better choice.

Source: Twitter’s new font and Last of Us 2: an accessibility lesson to be learned | by Anna 4erepawko Mészáros | Aug, 2021 | UX Collective

During my stint as WordPress lead developer, I was in the “Decisions, Not Options” camp . There are merits to the philosophy, but it can be taken to inaccessible ends.

There will always be conflicting accommodations. Customization is key, especially at scale.

Previously,

Mind Is an Embodied Phenomenon: Neurodiversity Is About Bodyminds, Not Just Brains

Neurodiversity, simply put, is the diversity among human minds. For 15 years or so after the term was coined, it was common for people to speak of neurodiversity as ‘‘diversity among brains.’’ There still are plenty of people who talk about it that way. I think this is a mistake; it’’s an overly reductionist and essentialist definition that’s decades behind present-day understandings of how human bodyminds work.

Mind is an embodied phenomenon. The mind is encoded in the brain as ever-changing webs of neural connectivity. The brain is part of the body, interconnected with the rest of the body by a vast network of nerves. The activity of the mind and body creates changes in the brain; changes in the brain affect both mind and embodiment. Mind, brain, and embodiment are intricately entwined in a single complex system. We’re not minds riding around in bodies, we’re bodyminds.

A lot of people hear neuro and they think, brain. But the prefix neuro doesn’t mean brain, it means nerve. The neuro in neurodiversity is most usefully understood as a convenient shorthand for the functionality of the whole bodymind and the way the nervous system weaves together cognition and embodiment. So neurodiversity refers to the diversity among minds, or among bodyminds.

In terms of scholarship, discourse, and praxis, there are two basic ways to approach the biopsychosocial phenomenon of neurodiversity. Sometime around 2010, I started referring to these two approaches as the pathology paradigm and the neurodiversity paradigm.

Source: Toward a Neuroqueer Future: An Interview with Nick Walker | Autism in Adulthood

So much of my perception of my autistic self is embodied. I feel sensory overwhelm in the nerve sense of neuro. It’s a brain and body thing.

As indicated by the title, the first essential term for this book is bodymind. Bodymind is a materialist feminist disability studies concept from Margaret Price that refers to the enmeshment of the mind and body, which are typically understood as interacting and connected, yet distinct entities due to the Cartesian dualism of Western philosophy (“The Bodymind Problem and the Possibilities of Pain” 270). The term bodymind insists on the inextricability of mind and body and highlights how processes within our being impact one another in such a way that the notion of a physical versus mental process is difficult, if not impossible to clearly discern in most cases (269). Price argues that bodymind cannot be simply a rhetorical stand-in for the phrase “mind and body”; rather, it must do theoretical work as a disability studies term. Bodymind is an essential concept in chapter 3 in my discussion of hyperempathy, a nonrealist disability that is both mental and physical in origin and manifestation. Bodymind generally, however, is an important and theoretically useful term to use in analyzing speculative fiction as the nonrealist possibilities of human and nonhuman subjects, such as the werewolves discussed in chapter 4, often highlight the imbrication of mind and body, sometimes in extreme or explicitly apparent ways that do not exist in our reality.

In addition to the utility of the term bodymind in discussions of speculative fiction, I also use this term because of its theoretical utility in discussions of race and (dis)ability. For example, bodymind is particularly useful in discussing the toll racism takes on people of color. As more research reveals the ways experiences and histories of oppression impact us mentally, physically, and even on a cellular level, the term bodymind can help highlight the relationship of nonphysical experiences of oppression—psychic stress—and overall well-being. While this research is emergent, people of color and women have long challenged their association with pure embodiment and the degradation of the body as unable to produce knowledge through a rejection of the mind/body divide. Bodymind provides, therefore, a politically and theoretically useful term in discussing (dis)ability in black women’s speculative fiction and more.

Source: Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction – Dr. Sami Schalk

Rejecting the Good Cripple Mythos: This is why we need cripple punk.

The post attracted a flood of hate mail, saying that disability isn’t something to be proud of, that disabled people shouldn’t smoke, or that a movement that “leaves out healthy people” isn’t punk. Trewhella took screenshots of the messages and added them to the post, writing, “This is why we need cripple punk.” Other people with disabilities started reblogging the post to add their own selfies, and tagging posts with cripple punk. To Trewhella’s surprise, a movement was born.

Realizing they were the leader of this new movement, Trewhella slapped together some rules and principles. “Cripple punk is exclusively by the physically disabled for the physically disabled,” they wrote. “Cripple punk rejects the ‘good cripple’ mythos. Cripple punk is here for the bitter cripple, the uninspirational cripple, the smoking cripple, the drinking cripple, the addict cripple, the cripple who hasn’t ‘tried everything’ […] Cripple punk does not pander to the able bodied.” Unlike the common inspirational depictions of disability, cripple punk allowed disabled people to be bitter, messy, and honest.

Cripple punk grew into not just a movement, but a community.

Source: How a teen punk led a movement for disabled people online – The Verge

I’m glad to see Trewhella and cripple punk get a compassionate write up. The cripple punk community and ethos are foundational to Stimpunks, inspiring our name.

Stimpunks rejects the good cripple mythos and is here for “the bitter cripple, the uninspirational cripple, the smoking cripple, the drinking cripple, the addict cripple, the cripple who hasn’t ‘tried everything’”.

The Importance of Stimming as an Adaptive Coping Mechanism

Autistic adults highlighted the importance of stimming as an adaptive mechanism that helps them to soothe or communicate intense emotions or thoughts and thus objected to treatment that aims to eliminate the behaviour.

Furthermore, more recent theories have suggested that stimming may provide familiar and reliable self-generated feedback in response to difficulties with unpredictable, overwhelming and novel circumstances (e.g. Lawson, Rees, & Friston, 2014; Pellicano & Burr, 2012). As such, stimming may provide not only relief from excessive sensory stimulation, but also emotional excitation such as anxiety (Leekam, Prior, & Uljarevic, 2011). Consistent with these suggestions, autistic adults report that stimming provides a soothing rhythm that helps them cope with distorted or overstimulating perception and resultant distress (Davidson, 2010) and can help manage uncertainty and anxiety (e.g. Joyce, Honey, Leekam, Barrett, & Rodgers, 2017).

Reflecting the aims of popular interventions, language surrounding the topic of stimming is often pejorative (Jaswal & Ahktar, 2018). Researchers sometimes assume that stimming falls within voluntary control and has asocial or antisocial motivations (Jaswal & Ahktar, 2018; Lilley, in press). For example, a prominent review of repetitive behaviours in autistic people attributed the onset of stimming to a ‘self-imposed restricted environment’ (Leekam et al., 2011, p. 577). Stimming has become so associated with autism that some scientists and clinicians use the term ‘stims’ interchangeably with ‘autistic behaviour’ (Donnellan, Hill, & Leary, 2013). Furthermore, therapies continue to treat stimming despite lacking strong evidence of efficacy or ethics (Jaswal & Akhtar, 2018; Lilley, in press). While researchers increasingly acknowledge limitations in the under- standing of, and interventions for, stimming (e.g. Harrop, 2015; Patterson, Smith, & Jelen, 2010), treatments may remain popular, in part because many parents regard it as noticeable and stigmatising (Kinnear, Link, Ballan, & Fischbach, 2016).

Autistic people have become increasingly mobilised and vocal in defence of stimming. Autism rights or neurodiversity activists believe that stims may serve as coping mechanisms, thus opposing attempts to eliminate non-injurious forms of stimming (e.g. Orsini & Smith, 2010). They decry practices such as ‘quiet hands’ (which teaches the suppression of hand flapping), instead using ‘loud hands’ as a metaphor both for using such non-verbal behaviour to communicate and for cultural resistance more broadly (Bascom, 2012). In addition, autistic scholar-activists denounce attempts to reduce their bodily autonomy (Nolan & McBride, 2015; Richter, 2017) and declarations of their stimming as unacceptable or as necessarily involuntary (Yergeau, 2016).

Source: ‘People should be allowed to do what they like’: Autistic adults’ views and experiences of stimming – Steven K Kapp, Robyn Steward, Laura Crane, Daisy Elliott, Chris Elphick, Elizabeth Pellicano, Ginny Russell, 2019

Let us stim! I couldn’t cope without my stims, including the self-injurious ones. They are lifelong companions that I wouldn’t want to be without.

Suppressing coping stims is violence against a neurominority.

Shiny Thing Equity Arithmetic

Shiny Thing Racial Equity Arithmetic: Racism + diversity programming + an anti-bullying program + Kindness Matters + SEL, PBIS, and restorative practices + grit and growth mindset = Racism

Originally tweeted by Soni Gill (@Soni_Gill1214) on November 10, 2020.

Image description:

Shiny Thing Racial Equity Arithmetic: Racism + diversity programming + an anti-bullying program + Kindness Matters + SEL, PBIS, and restorative practices + grit and growth mindset = Racism

Likewise for ableism and heterosexism. Our family was sold so many shiny things over the last decade of mindset marketing dominated ed-tech when what we needed from educators was a confrontation with structural ableism. Are you practicing shiny thing equity arithmetic? Instead, be a genuine threat to inequity.

Does Behaviorism Belong in the Classroom?

TLDR: No.

The paradigm of behaviorism going back to BF Skinner…denies, dismisses, trivializes, or simply writes off the whole idea of inner experience and looks only at behavior, the actions on the surface you can see and measure.

Source: Alfie Kohn | Does Behaviorism Belong in the Classroom? by The Think Inclusive Podcast • A podcast on Anchor

The behaviorism we experienced at school and in the autism therapies recommended to us by school felt fundamentally misguided. This uneasy feeling led us to the neurodiversity movement, where we found our discomfort with behaviorism almost universally shared.

There are few allies to neurodiversity in education, but in Alfie Kohn’s work on behavior and motivation I sensed a powerful education ally aligned with autistic community advocacy. Kohn gave me vocabulary for the inchoate discomfort I had with the behaviorism used on my kids. His writing nicely complimented and supplemented my neurodiversity advocacy.

I’d been following, amplifying, and applying his work for a number of years, when, in 2018, Kohn published “It’s Not About Behavior”. This article is a neurodiversity advocate’s dream.

Plenty of policies and programs limit our ability to do right by children. But perhaps the most restrictive virtual straitjacket that educators face is behaviorism – a psychological theory that would have us focus exclusively on what can be seen and measured, that ignores or dismisses inner experience and reduces wholes to parts. It also suggests that everything people do can be explained as a quest for reinforcement – and, by implication, that we can control others by rewarding them selectively.

Allow me, then, to propose this rule of thumb: The value of any book, article, or presentation intended for teachers (or parents) is inversely related to the number of times the word “behavior” appears in it. The more our attention is fixed on the surface, the more we slight students’ underlying motives, values, and needs.

It’s been decades since academic psychology took seriously the orthodox behaviorism of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner, which by now has shrunk to a cult-like clan of “behavior analysts.” But, alas, its reductionist influence lives on – in classroom (and schoolwide) management programs like PBIS and Class Dojo, in scripted curricula and the reduction of children’s learning to “data,” in grades and rubrics, in “competency”- and “proficiency”-based approaches to instruction, in standardized assessments, in reading incentives and merit pay for teachers.

Source: It’s Not About Behavior – Alfie Kohn

And then, in 2020, Kohn discovered our community and published “Autism and Behaviorism”.

But even more compelling is the testimony of young people who understand the reality of this approach better than anyone because they’ve been on the receiving end of it. It is nothing short of stunning to learn just how widely and intensely ABA is loathed by autistic adults who are able to describe their experience with it. Frankly, I’m embarrassed that, until about a year ago, I was completely unaware of all the websites, articles, scholarly essays, blog posts, Facebook pages, and Twitter groups featuring the voices of autistic men and women, all overwhelmingly critical of ABA and eloquent in describing the trauma that is its primary legacy.

Source: Autism and Behaviorism – Alfie Kohn

The ally I had long sensed came out with a powerful essay demonstrating what an insightful and compassionate ally can do.

And if it turns out that, contrary to widespread assumptions, behavior modification techniques aren’t supported by solid data even when used with autistic kids, why would we persist in manipulating anyone with positive reinforcement? A rigorous new meta-analysis utterly debunks the claim that applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is the only intervention for children with autism that’s “evidence-based.” In fact, it raises serious questions about whether ABA merits that description at all.

The late Herb Lovett used to say that there are only two problems with “special education” in America: It’s not special and it sure as hell isn’t education. The field continues to be marinated in behaviorist assumptions and practices despite the fact that numerous resources for teachers, therapists, and parents offer alternatives to behavior control. These alternatives are based on a commitment to care and to understand. By “care,” I mean that our relationship with the child is what matters most. He or she is not a passive object to be manipulated but a subject, a center of experience, a person with agency, with needs and rights. And by “understand,” I mean that we have an obligation to look beneath the behavior, in part by imaginatively trying to adopt that person’s point of view, attempting to understand the whys rather than just tabulating the frequency of the whats. As Norm Kunc and Emma Van der Klift urged us in their Credo for Support: “Be still and listen. What you define as inappropriate may be my attempt to communicate with you in the only way I can….[or] the only way I can exert some control over my life….Do not work on me. Work with me.”

Source: Autism and Behaviorism – Alfie Kohn

Read “Autism and Behaviorism” and “It’s Not About Behavior”. Listen to “Does Behaviorism Belong in the Classroom?”

Knowing that the neurodiversity and disability rights movements back Kohn’s claims with an outpouring of testimony, do you think behaviorism belongs in the classroom? Or anywhere?

Previously on behaviorism,

Profiting from Misery: When Autism Researchers Disregard Harms

Attention to adverse outcomes was absent in almost all studies and inadequate in the remaining few: 139 (93%) did not even mention or allude to this possibility, 11 (7%) had cursory statements, and none indicated that adverse events were monitored, much less how. Scrutiny of the poorly reported reasons for participant withdrawal and of effect sizes for reported outcomes yielded evidence that harms had occurred, yet were never interpreted as such.

Bottema-Beutel et al. follow Rodgers et al. (2020), whose systematic review of early intensive applied behavior analysis (ABA)-based autism interventions also found a pervasive failure to consider harms. Nowhere in this highly influential literature was there any reported effort to monitor or collect data on adverse outcomes. Study protocols, where plans to assess adverse events should prospectively be specified, were unavailable. Reported long-term outcomes, crucial for understanding harms, were lacking for early autism interventions claimed to have lifelong effects. What harms there may have been across any timescale thus could not be determined. Instead, Rodgers et al. found poor quality studies at high risk of bias, leaving ignored ergo unknown harms balanced against uncertain and inconclusive evidence for benefits. Such “preventable uninformativeness” due to poor standards in intervention research has been flagged as a violation of research ethics, entailing de facto harms for study participants and the studied population (Zarin et al., 2019). In this way, the widespread promotion of early intensive autism interventions, based on the biased deployment of a literature uninformative about their benefits versus harms, has been and continues to be inherently harmful to autistics.

Failures in addressing harms have proliferated across autism research, Bottema-Beutel et al. suggest, for reasons such as the embrace of low standard by journals, and the omnipresence of unchecked conflicts of interest (Bottema-Beutel et al., 2020b). Disregard of harms has in turn wrongly been interpreted as evidence of no harms, with consequences rippling out to other areas (e.g. early detection and screening), distorting research and practice. Despite a large literature spanning decades, accumulated knowledge about potential or actual harms to autistics from interventions that may occupy many of their waking hours, for years, is negligible. The foundations for adequate systems or methods for monitoring harms beyond the scope of intervention studies are thus lacking. Indeed, conflicts of interest entangled with low standards in research and practice would undermine future efforts to accurately capture harms via routinely collected data. Nothing justifies these multiple failures on the part of autism researchers.

We welcome the attention to harms shown by Bottema-Beutel et al. and Rodgers et al., as well as by Benevides et al. (2020), who include, among their top 5 autism research priorities, a question about the harms of behavioral and other interventions. But this attention is as rare as it is terribly overdue. We are left with an influential literature lacking fair tests of the benefits versus harms of autism interventions that have been widely implemented for decades. Autism researchers should be deeply troubled by this comprehensive failure to apply fundamental standards. We must recognize, understand, take responsibility for, and reduce the unacceptable biases that have led to autistics being considered unharmable, such that anything can be done to them.

Source: When autism researchers disregard harms: A commentary – Michelle Dawson, Sue Fletcher-Watson, 2021

Autistic people have difficulty accessing safety. Our neurology is tuned to high alert. So it’s especially cruel that we’re subjected to such harm. Autism therapies ignore everything we know about autism. The harm done is immense.

Why is autism research such a harm factory? In large part because private equity and big autism charities distort everything.

This study is the first systematic investigation into COIs in autism early intervention research. We found that COIs exist in a majority of studies, but are widely unreported.

Source: Research Review: Conflicts of Interest (COIs) in autism early intervention research – a meta‐analysis of COI influences on intervention effects

Via Ann Memmott, who breaks it down better than I ever could in this Twitter thread:

This is such an important piece of research by @autismcrisis @SueReviews
I want to put some of its findings on this thread.
How most autism researchers, in the studies here, haven’t even thought about whether they’re damaging the children & young people/

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/13623613211031403

@KristenBott & team investigated this in 150 bits of research. 139 (93%) did not even mention harms as a possibility, 11 (7%) had vague summaries, & none wrote that possible harm was even monitored/

Rodgers & team looked at ABA (applied behavior analysis research. Nowhere in this highly influential literature was there any reported effort to monitor or collect data on possible harm to the children.
None at all.
Nothing./

These poor standards in research has been flagged as a violation of research ethics.
Promotion of “early intensive” interventions (EIBI) when clueless about possible harms, “…has been and continues to be inherently harmful to autistics”/

This is a snip from the paper which talks about the horrifying things done to autistic children and young people, without ever once checking whether it’s actually done harm.
Yes, now, 2021.
Yes, ‘therapies’ paid for with public money.
Goodness me/

In choosing to believe that ‘success’ looks like a silent, still autistic child, the teams gave themselves no chance at all to assess for harm. Or to even realise that such a situation is, or could be, harmful for a child with different neurology & very real needs & emotions/

“Nothing justifies these multiple failures on the part of autism researchers”.

I agree entirely.

Not a career path.
Not a pretty award.
Not cash in the bank.

These are children whose lives have been treated as an cost-free experiment, & the damage could be lifelong.

What I find particularly shocking is that I read so many papers that have the gall to write “Yeah, we complied with Ethics and the Helsinki stuff, honest gov”.
Like hell they did.
Didn’t even think about it from start to finish.

An industry backed by a couple of rogue charity leaders who threaten researchers with, “You’ll never work again unless you do exactly as you’re told”.
Where the end result is whatever the ‘stakeholders’ want delivered (including those profiting from this misery)

“We must recognize, understand, take responsibility for, and reduce the unacceptable biases that have led to autistics being considered unharmable, such that anything can be done to them.”

Amen to that.

Originally tweeted by Ann Memmott PGC🌈 (@AnnMemmott) on July 28, 2021.

Follow the authors of ” When autism researchers disregard harms: A commentary” on Twitter:

See also Memmott’s Vital Research Links for a list of good research.

Identity Politics: A Healthy Love for Ourselves, Our Communities, and All People

We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.

This focusing upon our own oppression is embodied in the concept of identity politics. We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression.

Source: The Combahee River Collective Statement – COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE

That’s what it boils down to. Who else is going to consistently, determinedly work for us but us?

We’re autistic.

We’re disabled.

The words autistic and disabled connect us with an identity, a community, and a culture. With identity politics, we work for community liberation and the liberation of all people.

Identity is the place to understand what forms of oppression are operating within your own life. From here, coalitions can be built with others who face similar forms of oppression, so long as it is also understood that oppression is not experienced the same across identities. This is where intersectionality, the theory developed by black feminist scholar and activist Kimberlé Crenshaw, is useful. It helps us to understand that class oppression will look different for those who also exist at the intersection of marginalized race, gender, and sexual identities. Any coalition worth forming has to take stock of those differences or suffer an agenda that is insufficient to liberating all people.

Source: What Liberals Get Wrong About Identity Politics | The New Republic

Given our racist, heterosexist, and ableist societies, we especially work for all when we center disabled Black women.

If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.

Source: The Combahee River Collective Statement – COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE

The ultimate goal of meaningful inclusion for the disability community will never be fully realized until black and brown people are also free.

Source: Racism and Ableism – AAPD

What Lorde and other black feminists such as bell hooks, Alice Walker and Toni Morrison realized was that the more dehumanized groups a person belongs to, the more their experience forces them to understand about the way society is structured: what and who it takes for granted, the truths about itself it chooses to ignore, who is doing the truly essential work.

Source: Letters To My Weird Sisters: On Autism and Feminism 

Here are some disabled and neurodivergent Black women and non-binary to follow: