This is a very good overview of the Neurodiversity Movement.
The term intersectionality is used more broadly today to describe the cumulative effect within one’s lived experience of being in the world with two or more socially constructed identities; and the world’s perception, storying, and interaction with them.
The crux of intersectionality as a philosophy is that it does not allow for socially constructed identities to occur discreetly in the sociopolitical and sociocultural sphere. When someone like me walks into the room, I don’t have the opportunity to negotiate with others which of my identities they intend to hyperfocus on or criticize. I am a package deal. We all are. This is what I feel is so important when advocating for affirmation of intersectional autism. Just as we seek to discuss misogynoir, we need to bring in the complexity of these sorts of social dynamics into the autistic experience. Intersectionality can serve as a silencer of autism if the other seeks to home in on some other stereotype or archetype they find more threatening or — said with disgust — fascinating.
Autism doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and neither do any aspects of our intersectionality. They all happen at once, in the moment, and influence our being in the world, and how the world is with us at all times.
Intersectionality is not only arguing for factualizing these marginalized identities as inextricably intertwined, but also acknowledging that their accumulative interactions are absolutely inseparable.
It is unjust to only think of intersectionality as a crossroads of one dependent and independent variable. Instead, we must grow to see intersectional disability as a radial: multiple streams of energy coalescing at one central point of consciousness and lived experience.
The studies repeatedly underlined the importance of first impressions. A negative first impression held true no matter how much further exposure a person was given to reassess that first impression. But there was one scenario in which the Autistic people left a positive first impression: when people read a transcript of their words instead of seeing and hearing the Autistic people saying those words, observers rated them as more likable and more intelligent. In fact, in the scenario where observers just read the written words of Autistic and non-autistic people, they rated both groups the same. For non-autistic people, the written transcripts were their lowest-rated mode of communication, although only by a small amount. For Autistic people, the written transcripts were their highest-rated mode of communication by a very significant margin.
Written communication is the great social equalizer.
Jiang wrote, “One 2014 study by German academics showed that delays on phone or conferencing systems shaped our views of people negatively: even delays of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused.”
I have no idea how or if this translates to in-person interactions, but it has an interesting correlation: Autists often take longer to process the words we hear, formulate a response, and speak it. What a social disadvantage it must create if it’s causing people to view us as less friendly or focused.
Now at 32, I have been variety of people, and I don’t always know who the real me is. My mask has fused itself to me, leaving me inhibited and confused, uncertain of how to break loose, left wondering if being authentic is even possible anymore.
I have no choice but to don the mask. I wear it reflexively every day. Here is what that costs me.
Assuming for the sake of argument that ABA is effective at changing people’s behavior, it either does so via changing their underlying thought structures or values (“deep change”), or it does not (“superficial change”). If ABA is “successful” by way of deep change, then ABA violates autonomy insofar as it coercively closes off certain paths of identity formation. If ABA is “successful” by way of superficial change, then ABA violates autonomy by coercively modifying children’s patterns of behavior to be misaligned with their preferences, passions, and pursuits. Such superficial change is a pervasive form of interference that compromises children’s present and future autonomy.
Our contribution is to argue that, from a bioethical perspective, autism advocates are fully justified in their concerns—the rights of autistic children and their parents are being regularly infringed upon. Specifically, we will argue that employing ABA violates the principles of justice and nonmaleficence and, most critically, infringes on the autonomy of children and (when pushed aggressively) of parents as well.
We will argue that ABA is pro tanto unethical because it violates the autonomy of the children who are subject to it. We recognize that this argument will be controversial, not least because it is uncommon in the bioethical literature to treat respect for autonomy as a relevant moral consideration in decision making on behalf of young children. However, we think this generally is an error. An additional benefit of examining why ABA violates autonomy is that it helps illustrate one reason why respect for autonomy is morally relevant when making decisions on behalf of even young children.
As a framing device, we will take as given that gay conversion therapy is unethical and argue that ABA is coercive in a remarkably similar way.
The set of social, political, cultural, and personal rules favors a particular way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and communicating as superior to others: the neurotypical form.
Our parents are ashamed of our differences, and we notice it. They continually repress us when out of instinct we obey our neurology. They deny us reasonable adjustments because according to their own neurology, our differences are meaningless and no one has explained to them that it is a right.
The vast majority of medical interventions around autism are not accepting of autism as one of the many biological possibilities of human diversity. Without evidence, they pathologize our differences, dehumanizing us.
The authorities force us to submit to systems that do not take into account our differences, making access to our human rights difficult.
The neuronorm forces us to camouflage ourselves when it is possible (at a very high cost in health and dignity) and when it is not possible we are denied the presumption of competence and the most basic rights are taken away from us: dignity, freedom, education and even the right to live.
We are the rare ones, the strangers, those who do not share the codes that unite society. We are the epitome of what it means to be “the other,” our way of being considered “not valid.”
NEURONORM: The Neuronorm is the set of social, political, cultural and personal norms that privilege a particular way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and communicating as superior to others.
Forty hours of look at me/quiet hands? No more fluttering your hands in a language only you know, no more flapping your hands watching golden drops of happiness fly from your fingertips as you hum … no more angry bolts of lightening flying from your nails as you shake your hands so hard your wrists pound.
No more you.
Twenty accessible pages on autistic minds that I recommend to every educator.