For this reason, I would suggest a renewed focus on MESH education, which stands for Media Literacy, Ethics, Sociology, and History. Because if these are not given equal attention, we could end up with incredibly bright and technically proficient people who lack all capacity for democratic citizenship.
The future of the nation and the world depends on an engaged, informed, and critically-thinking population. That means we need more than just STEM, more than technological advances, and more than high standardized test scores. We need MESH and civic competence as well.
“Move fast and break things” is an abomination if your goal is to create a healthy society. Taking shortcuts may be financially profitable in the short-term, but the cost to society is too great to be justified. In a healthy society, we accommodate differently abled people through accessibility standards, not because it’s financially prudent but because it’s the right thing to do. In a healthy society, we make certain that the vulnerable amongst us are not harassed into silence because that is not the value behind free speech. In a healthy society, we strategically design to increase social cohesion because binaries are machine logic not human logic.
We must work not only toward providing better security around student data but also toward _educating _students about the need to critically evaluate how their data is used and how to participate in shaping data privacy practices and policies. These policies and practices will affect them for the rest of their lives, as individuals with personal data and also as leaders with power over the personal data of others. Regulation is necessary, but education is the foundation that enables society to recognize when its members’ changing needs require a corresponding evolution in its regulations. And for those of us in academia, unlike those in industry, education is our work.
To be a certified instructor in “Therapeutic Options,” one needs four days of training. That’s it. Four days to learn how to teach people maneuvers that kill and traumatize autistic kids.
Not once did anyone mention that maybe children shouldn’t be subjected to compliance training. It was a joke, and people like me were the punchline.
…flawed terminology, measurement and theory have all contributed to the mischaracterisation of autistic people as lacking empathy, to severely negative effect.
The myth of an empathy deficit in autism is now so well ingrained, that for an autistic volunteer to report they do not lack empathy is either to question the views of the large majority of medical and scientific professionals, or even to deny their diagnosis. As such, they may report empathy deficits even when they frequently experience empathic feelings.
Autistic people have described that they experience ‘…hyperarousal of the empathic system…’ (Elcheson et al., 2018, p. 189) or an ‘…intense, uncontrollable empathy…’ (Williams, 1998, p. 59).
Recent research has further indicated that autistic people may be more prone to object personification (White & Remington, 2019), suggesting that the autistic manifestation of empathy could not only be more intense but also more all-encompassing that the neurotypical model.
When we develop and use educational technologies that monitor a student’s every moment in school and online, we groom that student for a lifetime of surveillance
I updated “Bring the backchannel forward. Written communication is the great social equalizer.” with selections from “NeuroDiversity: The Birth of an Idea by Judy Singer”.
Computers as the essential prosthetic device for autistics?
Despite a common history of what can, with the wisdom of hindsight, be termed “oppression”, the limited social, networking, and organisational skills of people with AS together with their aversion to direct human contact, had prevented them joining together to form an effective movement to address their specific issues. All this changed however with the advent of the Internet. Computers are the communications medium par excellence for autistics. A significant number of autistics claim that computers mirror the way their minds work (Grandin, with Blume, 1997). By filtering out all the sensory overwhelm caused by actual physical presence, computers free up autistics’ communicative abilities.
InLv members regularly sing the praises of the new medium that allows them to have the form of communication they desire, while protecting them from the overwhelming sensory overload and rapid processing demands of human presence. For many, email lists are their first experience of community. Jane Meyerding, a member of InLv makes clear just how much autistics owe to computer technology:
Like a lot of ACs (autistics and cousins), I find myself able to enjoy “community” for the first time through the internet. The style of communication suits me just fine because it is one-on-one, entirely under my control in terms of when and how long I engage in it, and, unlike real-life encounters, allows me enough time to figure out and formulate my responses. In real-world encounters with groups—even very small groups—of people, I am freighted with disadvantages. I am distracted by my struggle to identify who is who (not being able to recognise faces), worn out by the effort to understand what is being said (because if there is more than one conversation going on in the room, or more than one voice speaking at a time, all the words become meaningless noise to me), and stressed by a great desire to escape from a confusing flood of sensation coming at me much too fast. (Jane Meyerding – Thoughts on Finding Myself Differently Brained, 1998)
As this statement shows, for autistics, computers are the essential prosthetic device, one which turns them from withdrawn, isolated individuals, to networked social beings, the prerequisite to effective social action, and a voice in the public arena.
Autistics compare the importance to them of computers with the importance of seeing-eye dogs to the blind. Martijn Dekker, who is the ‘owner’ of the InLv email forum, and a prominent autistic activist foreshadows puts it plainly:
For reasons obvious to our HFA/AS community, I consider a computer to be an essential disability provision for a person with Asperger’s. (8 Nov 1998)
It seems as if the Open Space principles and the Law of Two Feet have been designed specifically for autistic communication and collaboration needs. Even the way of initiating conversations in Open Space feels highly intuitive from an autistic perspective:
- write down and briefly explain a problem statement,
- listen to other problem statements, and then
- allow participants to self-organise around specific topics of interest
Autistic social motivation is deeply rooted in the desire to share knowledge and in the desire to learn, and this has big implications for the protocols that are used in autistic communication. In contrast, the societies we grow up in and live in value abstract social status symbols more than developing a shared understanding, and this leads to the communication challenges that define our social experiences.
The distributed model can be a boon to folks who have difficulty working in an office, but ultimately it’s up to the people who create and design work environments — distributed or co-located — to recognize that there isn’t a normal employee or a normal mode of work. There are no abnormal employees with abnormal needs. Companies should reject this false dichotomy and acknowledge that every employee is different, and that some might also experience several forms of difference and marginalization at once. Everyone, however, is likely to be happier and more productive when they have choices, agency, and a way to express their individual needs.