I updated “I’m Autistic. Here’s what I’d like you to know.” with selections from “Autism, intense interests and support in school: from wasted efforts to shared understandings”.

…enabling autistic children to engage with their strong interests has been found to be predominantly advantageous, rather than deleterious, in school environments.

Furthermore, longer-term benefits have been associated with the pursuit of intense interests, with relatively few negative effects overall, which in themselves might only occur if autistic people are pressured to reduce or adapt their interests.

Having intense or “special” interests and a tendency to focus in depth to the exclusion of other inputs, is associated with autistic cognition, sometimes framed as “monotropism”. Despite some drawbacks and negative associations with unwanted repetition, this disposition is linked to a range of educational and longer-term benefits for autistic children.

Source: Autism, intense interests and support in school: from wasted efforts to shared understandings

The findings indicated four main reasons for repetitive behavior: enhancing the ability to function; reducing external stimuli and avoiding communication; coping with stress, distress, and excitement; and coping with social communication.

The findings suggest that repetitive behaviors play a functional role in people with HFASD and also serve as a way for these individuals to cope with their environment.

Source: Repetitive behaviors: Listening to the voice of people with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder – ScienceDirect

Functioning labels and medical model language aside, this study reinforces what autistic people have been saying about stimming.

For examples of popular stims, see this thread.

My contribution:

McMindfulness aims to reduce the stress of the private individual and does not admit to any interest in the social causes of stress.

McMindfulness practices psychologize and medicalize social problems. Rather than a way to attain awakening toward universal love, it becomes a means of self-regulation and personal control over emotions. McMindfulness is blind to the present moral, political and cultural context of neoliberalism. As a result, it does not grasp that an individualistic therapized and commodified society is itself a major generator of social suffering and distress. Instead, the best it can then do, ironically, is to offer to sell us back an individualistic, commodified “cure” – mindfulness – to reduce that distress.

By negating and downplaying actual social and political contexts and focusing on the individual, or more so, the individual’s brain, McMindfulness interventions ignore seeing our inseparability from all others. They ignore seeing our inseparability from inequitable cultural patterns and social structures that affect and constitute our relations, and thereby ourselves. McMindfulness thus forfeits the moral demand that follows this insight: to challenge social inequities and enact universal compassion, service and social justice in all forms of human endeavor.

Without a critical account of the social context of neoliberal individualism, mindfulness as a practice and discourse focused on the self minimizes social critique and change and contributes to keeping existing social injustices and inequitable power structures intact.

Source: How capitalism captured the mindfulness industry | Life and style | The Guardian

See also,

The language used to describe autism is currently the subject of intense and passionate debate. Our primary goals in this work have been to:

  • Use language that is respectful to people on the autism spectrum and to those who support them.
  • Recognise the very real challenges experienced by autistic people and their families, without portraying autism as a problem to be fixed.
  • Ensure that the language we use recognises autism as a lifespan condition experienced by people of all genders and ages, from all walks of life and all around the globe.

For this reason we have not used any functioning labels in the text, and minimised any use of medical and deficit-focused terminology. However, we have included some person-first language (e.g. person with autism), although we know this will not be the preference of many autistic people. Our reasons for doing so include the fact that, historically, person-first language was part of the early disability rights agenda – this was not a language construction imposed by the neurotypical/non-disabled community. Gernsbacher recently pointed out that language can be stigmatising when different constructions are used to describe people with and without a disability – as in the phrase “typically developing children and children with autism” – and we have tried to avoid this throughout by using matched constructions as far as possible. An oft-cited online survey shows that about 60% of autistic respondents approved the use of the identity-first construction “autistic” to communicate about autism, and just under 40% endorsed “autistic person” specifically. Thus identity-first language receives strong support in the community, and many have written eloquently about the importance of this kind of language for their well-being and identity. We have no desire to over-ride this wide-spread and well-articulated preference, and the majority of language here is identity first. However, in the same survey, more than 30% of the autistic group surveyed approved the use of the person-first phrase “has autism” to communicate about autism. Moreover, about 25% of respondents on the autism spectrum selected either “has autism/Asperger’s syndrome” or “person with autism/Asperger’s syndrome” when asked to pick only one preferred language option. It is very clear from the data that, even within an autistic group, there is diversity in opinion, and we have chosen to reflect that diversity in our choice of language in this book. To readers of the future, we can only apologise if this choice seems to have been retrograde.

Source: Happé, Francesca; Fletcher-Watson, Sue. Autism (Page viii). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

I’m heartened when autism researchers respect and promote identity-first language and eschew functioning labels. Make it a trend.

I updated “I’m Autistic. Here’s what I’d like you to know.” with selections from “Autistic children and intense interests: the key to their educational inclusion? – woodbugblog”.

In my study, I found that when the autistic children were able to access their intense interests, this brought, on the whole, a range of inclusionary advantages. Research has also shown longer-term benefits too, such as developing expertise, positive career choices and opportunities for personal growth. This underscores how important it is that the education of autistic children is not driven by a sense of their deficits, but by an understanding of their interests and strengths. And that rather than dismissing their interests as ‘obsessive’, we ought to value their perseverance and concentration, qualities we usually admire.

…the autistic children in my study were turning to their strong interests in times of stress or anxiety. And there has certainly been a lot of research which shows that autistic children and young people find school very stressful. So it might be the case that when this autistic trait is manifested negatively in school, it is a direct result of the stresses that school creates in the first instance.

Source: Autistic children and intense interests: the key to their educational inclusion? – woodbugblog

Instead, the college admissions scandal should draw attention to a different problem: That the companies that develop and administer standardized tests have no empirical basis for placing such an emphasis on speed. Yet these companies do put a terrible premium on speed, even though the notion that faster is better has been debunked: In fact, a student’s scores on such exams correlate in a perfect linear relationship with socio-economic status rather than with a student’s ability to solve difficult problems.

Stringently timed, high-stake tests have an adverse impact against racial minorities, women, those with low socio-economic status, non-native speakers of English, older applicants, and people with disabilities. Of course, that adverse impact is further exacerbated when the ultra-wealthy cheat to inflate their children’s scores.

Source: What the College Admissions Scandal Reveals About Disability, Speed, and Standardized Tests – Pacific Standard

Instead of being focused on pleasing the majority, the autistic quest for fairness and social justice is a constant theme. Instead of thinking everyone must show sophisticated interests in order to display a high social and intellectual rank, many autistic people have found joy in any number of wider interests. Those deep interests lead some to become the world’s experts in those topic, whether it’s forming world-leading and important collections, deep knowledge of subjects that benefit all of humanity, or a singular joy in a favourite topic or hobby.

Source: Ann’s Autism Blog: Autism, Age, Wisdom

…when the autistic children were able to access their strongly held interests, the school staff didn’t need to prompt them anywhere near as much(or even at all), and the children were more motivated, independent and relaxed. Not only did this enable the supporting adult to take on a more constructive role, but the lighter-touch support meant that it was easier for peers to engage with the autistic children too.

…the autistic children in my study were turning to their strong interests in times of stress or anxiety. And there has certainly been a lot of research which shows that autistic children and young people find school very stressful. So it might be the case that when this autistic trait is manifested negatively in school, it is a direct result of the stresses that school creates in the first instance.

In my study, I found that when the autistic children were able to access their intense interests, this brought, on the whole, a range of inclusionary advantages. Research has also shown longer-term benefits too, such as developing expertise, positive career choices and opportunities for personal growth. This underscores how important it is that the education of autistic children is not driven by a sense of their deficits, but by an understanding of their interests and strengths. And that rather than dismissing their interests as ‘obsessive’, we ought to value their perseverance and concentration, qualities we usually admire.

Source: Autistic children and intense interests: the key to their educational inclusion? – woodbugblog

I updated “I’m Autistic. Here’s what I’d like you to know.” with selections from “Respectfully Connected | 10 ‘Autism Interventions’ for Families Embracing the Neurodiversity Paradigm”.

  1. Learn from autistic people
  2. Tell your child they are autistic
  3. Say NO to all things stressful & harmful
  4. Slow down your life
  5. Support & accommodate sensory needs
  6. Value your child’s interests
  7. Respect stimming
  8. Honour & support all communication
  9. Minimise therapy, increase accommodations & supports
  10. Explore your own neurocognitive differences

Source: Respectfully Connected | 10 ‘Autism Interventions’ for Families Embracing the Neurodiversity Paradigm

Resistant > Resilient

jon adams on Twitter: “I don’t want to be ‘resilient’ to the poor attitudes & hostile environment so often society sets out before #autistic people I want to be ‘resistant’ to the poor attitudes & hostile environment so often society sets out before #autistic people #AutisticCultureShift”

Jorn Bettin on Twitter: “Spot-on. “Help” to become resilient only perpetuates and amplifies toxic power gradients. #AutisticCultureShift must include #Resistance and #AutisticCollaboration. That’s the path to a safer environment. Don’t trust anyone who claims we can’t collaborate https://t.co/iVxYFUUY9G.… https://t.co/VWrboWg9rF”

Ryan Boren on Twitter: “Resistant \> Resilient I like that as pushback against grit, mindset marketing, inspoporn, bootstrap ideology, and deficit ideology.… https://t.co/0fBAl4DZZH”

Related,