Power Dynamics, Pathologization, and Paradigm Shifts: The Neurodiversity Paradigm (Transcript of ep. 2 of Autism and The Human podcast)

Hello. Welcome to Autism and “The Human.” I’m Limbic Noodle, and today’s episode is “Power Dynamics, Pathologisation and Paradigm Shifts. 

I want to start by saying that Nick Walker’s “Neuroqueer Heresies: Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities” was an invaluable source for today’s subject. It helped me recognize ways I’ve misused the language of the “Neurodiversity Paradigm.” It also helped me realize why I’ve intentionally misused the “Neurodiversity Paradigm” vocabulary. Sometimes I made honest mistakes rooted in ignorance. However, sometimes I misused words because they served as a form of deflection. I assumed the terms were unfamiliar to people who argued for person-first language, so they’d be less likely to tell me not to use them. 

From everything I’ve read, the autism rights movement gained momentum in the 1990s. I wish I’d been more self-aware in the 1990s. It’s not like I was too young to have become involved in the movement. There are younger people than I was at the time who are mast-heading social change. However, my list of priorities at the time was pretty narrow: 

a) To do well academically in high school to get into university. 

b) To blend with my peers well enough that I could become invisible to bullies. 

I was not consciously aware of my autistic identity for two more decades. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t unconsciously aware of it. It was more of an occasional thought in high school, probably because I didn’t have a clear idea of what autism was. Comparing myself to my brother and cousin, who were formally diagnosed, there would have been no reason to conclude that I was Autistic. When I listened to my parents try to describe autism to strangers, their go-to reference was Rain Man. If I’d compared myself to Raymond Babbit, I wouldn’t have concluded that I was Autistic. 

I have often wondered whether I had it better off than my older brother, who I will refer to as “M.” I didn’t have a word I could apply to myself to describe how I increasingly felt “Abnormal.” At least “M” had the word “Autism” to help him understand those feelings of being abnormal. On the other hand, he didn’t have any positive associations with the word “Autism.” His experience of autism included early-onset schizophrenia, but without the balance of being an astounding piano player or linguist. In other words, Rain Man was the example he could use, but the message of that movie was that Raymond Babbit had some degree of value to society because he could help his brother cheat at gambling. If you didn’t have an autistic “Super Power,” would you be important to society? 

My parents tried to find positive associations for my brother. I don’t know for sure if “M” reacted to these attempts the way I did, but for myself, their efforts made me feel worse. I could only hear my mom’s side of the conversations when she talked to our auntie on the phone, but the conversations reinforced the Super Power=Value to Parents and Society formula. This formula seemed particularly applicable to the oldest boy in that family. He was a brilliant pianist, could speak many languages and was a whiz at math. There was no way “M” could compete. I admit that I was happy not to be formally identified as autistic at the time because it spared me being measured against our cousin. I think our parents thought they were giving “M” hope that he could aspire to greatness. I guess it made him think there wasn’t much point in trying. 

“M” and I went through the worst bullying in Junior High school. We’d been in the same grade since he’d repeated Kindergarten. Being in the same grade as “M” had been our mother’s primary means of keeping him engaged in school. He felt the need to compete with me. I also served as an interpreter and mediator between “M” and our teachers. “M” would do things like not hand in assignments because the teacher hadn’t explicitly asked for them. I’d tell him that he should assume they wanted him to give them their assigned work. He went through a phase where he would remove all the vowels from his writing. I would rewrite the work for the teachers, replacing all the vowels. Another factor that helped “M” get through elementary school was his friendship with a person I will call “W.” My brother was given a shield of protection from “W” being popular in our elementary school, at least until we transitioned to middle school.

I used to say that middle school is where they isolate preteens until they are fit to reenter civilized society. I felt this way because of the unbelievable amount of bullying “M” and I faced in middle school. Students were funnelled from schools all over the city into the smaller number of middle schools. This change caused the upheaval of social groups we’d worked on establishing since Kindergarten. Back then, the classes were arranged according to streaming. Stronger students would be in the A classes. Each subsequent form would be a mixture of students with lower academic and social skills. I think I was initially assigned to a B or C class, probably because my ELA skills were strong, but my math was very weak. 

I immediately asked to be moved to 7E because that was M’s class. To be fair, the Principal tried to convince me that it was a bad idea. I thought it was entirely my idea to ask for this change at the time. Without W being a consistent part of M’s life, I felt he might drop out of school. I didn’t think about how I would be affected. I became the focal point of resentment from students in the class who didn’t want someone’s academic success constantly rubbed in their faces. At the time, I didn’t realize how the idea of moving classes didn’t come to me as organically as I believed. Years later, I realized that my mother had put the idea in my head because she feared they would lose access to social assistance if my brother dropped out of school. Both my parents worked, but they still couldn’t make ends meet. 

There didn’t turn out to have been much of a point to my sacrifice. M did make it to grade 10, but he was never engaged in school after grade 6. The idea that I would protect him from bullies in middle school turned out to be a joke. M might only have made it to grade 10 because he felt responsible for watching out for me. I can’t say which of us was picked on the most. I’ve compressed the details of this period of my life into a zip file in my brain. 

There are a couple of bullies that stand out the most for me. One was a girl I had a horrific run-in with at the end of grade six. I couldn’t go to my Grade Six graduation because my eyes were swollen shut, my lips were puffed up and split open, and my face was black and blue because of what this girl had done to me. I’d gone to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with one of my younger brothers. I guess she went to the same movie with her younger brother. We all lived on the same street, which meant we walked the same route home. The girl’s brother ran away when she demanded I come over to her. He must have had a sense she was looking to start trouble. The girl grabbed my hair as soon as I was close enough. My younger brother began throwing rocks at her, but she held her cigarette up to my eye and threatened to put it out on my eyeball if I didn’t tell him to leave. He took off running home to find help. 

In the meantime, she used me to prove that she could be a ninja turtle or something like that. I can’t say what was going on in her head. Years later, I heard she landed in jail as an adult because she stabbed her boyfriend in the thigh with a meat fork. I don’t know if that story was true, but it made sense based on what she’d done to me. In the more immediate time frame of this incident, I discovered on the first day of grade seven that she’d been so angry that night, probably because she’d failed grade seven. I learned this when I discovered she was in the class I asked to be moved to because of my older brother. 

You’d think my mom would have told me to stay put in my original class, but no, I went through months of being beaten in the locker room before gym class before anyone interceded. It wasn’t based on my pleas for help that the administration stepped in. The one bright spot of moving to that class was that I met a girl who’d become a life-long friend. Because she witnessed me being beaten in the locker room and reported it to the administration, this bully was expelled. I’ve sometimes felt guilty about this, looking back. If I’d stayed in my original class, would she have found someone else to bully? Or was there something about me in particular that brought out her anger? If I hadn’t been there, would she have ended up expelled? Years later, her older sister taught me in high school, and I had a great deal of respect for her. I have sometimes wondered if I was the reason this bully didn’t turn out more like her older sister. 

So that was one of the worst of my bullies. I never knew for sure if the other was one person or a group who took turns making my life miserable. They made my life hard by guaranteeing I’d be late for class every day. I had “Mom” duties every day, which included making sure my five younger siblings and M got up and dressed for school and had lunches packed. There was rarely enough food to pack lunch for myself, but teachers stopped reporting your parents to Child Protective Services in middle school if you didn’t have a lunch packed. The friend who saved me from the first bully I described was also the one who saved me from starving every day at lunch or having to hike through the snow several blocks home just to scarf down a few rolled-up cheese slices with mustard on them before racing back to school. 

Anyway, my morning “Mom” duties meant I was always on the brink of being late. The bully or conglomerate of bullies made sure I was late every day by duct-taping my locker shut for almost all of seventh grade. I eventually realized the staff would never start monitoring the hallway to prevent it from happening, which would have been the obvious solution. I decided to bring a knife to school to cut my way into my locker. It was quicker than trying to peel off the duct tape. It was of particular importance to me to be on time was again connected to the rules around social assistance. Chronic tardiness could get my parents’ social assistance clawed back. My efforts to overcome this obstacle are that I almost got suspended for bringing a weapon to school. I didn’t get suspended because I pointed out how none of it would have been necessary if the teachers were doing their morning hallway monitoring duties. Because I stood up for myself in this way, the duct-taping tapered off at the end of seventh grade.

Students from neighbouring communities funnelled students into two junior high schools in the city. This made us smaller fish in a bigger pond. Being invisible was all I’d wanted for years. I was closer to the goal. M was on his way out the door. He didn’t make it to the end of grade ten. 

Okay. That was quite the tangent. Circling back, I sometimes wonder if I might have had the chance to learn that there were alternatives to seeing myself as “Abnormal” if I hadn’t been preoccupied with getting through my miserable adolescence. I remember telling myself that I must have been more important to my bullies than they were to me. After all, they devoted time to me each of their days. It wasn’t true since they still live rent-free in my mind years later. 

I’m sure M wanted the same thing I wanted: To blend and fit in. I’m pretty sure nobody told him that “Abnormal” and “Autistic” weren’t the same. I doubt he was more aware of the autistic rights movement and the emerging vocabulary of the Neurodiversity Paradigm than I was. After all, we were teens in Saskatchewan who didn’t have access to the internet. I am not even sure if the schools had internet until we were in high school. 

Nick Walker, the author of “Neuroqueer Heresies,” articulated something my brother and I were aware of when we were teenagers, even when we didn’t have ways to express how we felt. Walker said the autistic rights movement came out of a discourse dominated by the “Pathology Paradigm.” Within the “Pathology Paradigm,” autism is framed as a “disorder” or a “condition” that leads to the stigmatization, dehumanization, abuse, traumatization and general harm of autistic individuals by professionals and their own families (Walker, 12). While my older brother and I were unaware of what the “Pathology Paradigm” meant in the 1990s, we understood stigmatization, dehumanization, abuse, harm, and trauma as Autistic teenagers. 

Last week I explained some of the reasons I think there is push-back against the idea of the existence of an “Autistic Lexicon.” As far as some people are concerned, it’s a slippery slope between implementing a more accepting vocabulary around autism and acknowledging the existence of an “Autistic Culture.” Recognizing an “Autistic Culture” would mean admitting that autistic people are united by more than what is pathologized about us. Acknowledging an “Autistic Culture” might lead to the necessity of recognizing patterns of oppression in similar ways as other marginalized groups. I should point out that although I’ve been saying “Autistic,” these patterns of oppression extend to other “Neurominorities.” 

Getting into the vocabulary, I will start with the concept of the “Pathology Paradigm.” Walker said that a paradigm is a set of assumptions that change the way people talk about a subject. It is a lens through which we look at an issue, changing our questions and how we ask those questions (Walker, 17). Walker said “Paradigm Shift” gets misused a lot. They use the example of how companies call a new product a “Paradigm Shift” when the product is just a more recent version of an already existing product. Real paradigm shifts require radical shifts in our fundamental assumptions. 

Walker said that the pathology paradigm boils down to two fundamental assumptions. The first basic assumption is that there is one “right,” “normal,” or healthy way for human brains and minds to function and be configured. The second fundamental assumption is that if your neurological functioning and configuration differ from this typical way of functioning and being configured, there is Something Wrong With You (Walker, 18). When people say there is no standard of “normal,” they reveal their privilege. As far as I am concerned, they are saying that they’ve never been “othered” in a significant way. 

Walker lists some groups, individuals, institutions, and societal structures that operate on the pathology paradigm, leading to the stigmatization, pathologization, and traumatization of autistic people. This list includes the following: The psychiatric establishment that calls autism a “disorder”; prominent “autism charities” that frame autism as epidemics or natural disasters; researchers that focus on causations and cures; people who have no background in science but think they are qualified to recommend to parents they don’t vaccinate their children because it causes autism; parents who think the best way to help their autistic child is to take away their safe spaces and turn their lives into an ongoing behavioural intervention session; behaviourist interventionists who make a living off training autistic people to act normal while autistic people can’t find ways to make a living from being experts of their own experiences; celebrities who have a friend or relative who is on the spectrum so they throw their support behind “autism charities” that don’t actually help autistic people live their daily lives; and people who use autistic people as inspiration, pushing the idea that if that autistic person can do it, they can do even better, even though they might just have mediocre abilities in comparison to the autistic inspirational figure in question (Walker, 18-19). 

As a person who has been “othered” in significant ways, I can confirm the pervasiveness of the assumptions made by the pathology paradigm. I can confirm how frustrating it can be not to have alternatives for language that assumes the pathology of your neurology. Walker articulates the fundamental aspects of the “Neurodiversity Paradigm.” They say that differences among minds are called Neurodiversity and are a natural form of human diversity. When it comes to human minds, there is no such thing as “normal” or “right,” just like there is not a “normal” gender, ethnicity or culture. Finally, Walker said that the way people with differing neurologies interact is similar to the social dynamics that develop around the diversity of race, gender, culture, and sexual orientation. These dynamics are rooted in privilege and oppression (Walker, 19-20). 

Last week I told you that I sometimes had used the language of “Neurodiversity” as a form of deflection. I noticed that many people thought of the vocabulary as the newest buzzwords, similarly misusing them as tech companies misuse words like “Paradigm Shift,” intending to look progressive and socially aware. When I noticed this, it occurred to me that I could deflect criticism from the “Person-first” crowd simply by using language they didn’t understand. The problem was that I wasn’t embracing the vocabulary and was misusing it myself. Someone who heard or read my vocabulary usage certainly wouldn’t have assumed I’d undergone a paradigm shift that led me to reject the “Pathology Paradigm” and embrace the “Neurodiversity Paradigm.” 

Now we arrive at the language within the “Neurodiversity Paradigm” versus the language used within the “Pathology Paradigm.” Last week, I explained the fundamental differences when discussing “Person-first” versus “Identity-first” language. We say that someone is black, not that they are a person with blackness. We say that someone is a lesbian, not that they are a person with lesbianism. We certainly wouldn’t say that someone “suffers from Indigenousness,” so why would we say they “suffer from autism”?

I am Autistic. I come from a Neurodiverse family culture. I choose this vocabulary for myself. However, there are other words that are needed to describe a broader range of experiences and concepts. Walker tells us that the most insidious sort of inequality is the kind that establishes a dominant group as “normal” to the point where they don’t need a label to identify them. They are what everyone thinks of when someone says “normal,” “healthy,” or even when they just say “person.” They are the default standard against which everyone else is measured. 

When we don’t have words that identify this dominant group as something other than “Human,” while marginalized groups of people always have another descriptor added, we reinforce the idea that they are the default “Human.” Conversations about homosexuality were very different when there wasn’t a word for people who were not LGBTQIA. Since this dominant group became the default “Normal,” LGBTQIA activists were forced to demand the same rights as “People.” The Autism Rights Movement faced this when they set out to create a vocabulary that would allow transformative change to the discourse. 

In addition to this problem, some of the worst ways that Autistic people abuse other Autistics are tied to the concept of “Normal.” Although Autistic people weren’t responsible for inventing the distinctions of “High Functioning” and “Low Functioning,” some of us have used the terms to make ourselves feel superior to other Autistic people. This is made more appalling by what the words mean in relation to “Normal.” Walker tells us that when we measure Autistic people against the neurotypical “normal” ideal, we say the word “Low Functioning” describes people who are the furthest from passing for this ideal. “High functioning” becomes a descriptor for Autistic people who are the closest to passing for neurotypical. 

Last week I told you that I don’t use “Asperger’s” because of the divisions created between those on the spectrum. When faced with stigmatization, it can be tempting for those called “High-functioning,” including those initially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, to think of themselves as better than those who’d be called “Low-functioning.” Walker suggests that rather than rating humans as “High-functioning” or “Low-functioning,” we should rate societies on a scale that measures how much they support and accommodate diversity, including Neurodiversity.

I am comfortable with calling myself “Autistic.” On the other hand, I can understand why the language of the Neurodiversity Paradigm is valuable. Walker said:

“In terms of discourse, research, and policy, the pathology paradigm asks, in essence, “What do we do about the problem of these people not being normal,” while the neurodiversity paradigm asks, “What do we do about the problem of these people being oppressed, marginalized, and/or poorly served and poorly accommodated by the prevailing culture?” (Walker, 29). 

It is helpful to start by looking at words we can use to broaden the discourse. Walker makes three points of warning regarding utilizing the Neurodiversity Paradigm vocabulary. First, do not refer to yourself or another individual as Neurodiverse. There is no such thing as a single person who is neurodiverse. The appropriate word to refer to an individual is neurodivergent. Next, do not describe a group of neurodivergent or neurominority people as “Neurodiverse.” Finally, do not use the word “Diverse” as a synonym or euphemism for a person who belongs to a marginalized group (Walker, 50). 

The word “Neurodiversity” expresses the biological fact that humanity is diverse in many ways, including neurologically. It isn’t a way of thinking or a perspective like the Neurodiversity Paradigm. It also can’t be described as a social justice movement. That’s the Neurodiversity Movement. An example of the correct way to use “Neurodiversity” would be, “My family is neurodiverse.” This is true because multiple family members are members of neurominorities, but various members of my family are not. If my family were made up only of people who were members of one particular neurominority, my family could no longer be called Neurodiverse. The mere presence of members of a Neurominority does not qualify the group as representative of Neurodiversity if there’s no actual diversity of neurology among those members. 

Nick Walker coined the term “Neurominority” and said that a group of people could be called a “Neurominority” when all the following are true: they share the same form of neurodivergence; the shared form of neurodivergence is mainly innate and inseparable from who the person is; the shared form of neurodivergence is one that is viewed with discrimination, prejudice, and misunderstanding that are reinforced by the pathology paradigm (Walker, 41-42). This will be important to understand as I explain the difference between “Neurodiversity” and “Neurodivergence,” and when I explain what the word “Neurodivergent” means. This will be particularly true when I explain how a person might be Neurodivergent but not be considered a member of a Neurominority. 

The words “Neurodivergence” and “Neurodivergent” were coined by Kassiane Asasumasu (formerly Sibley) in the year 2000. Walker described Neurodivergency as a mind that functions significantly different from what society deems “normal” (Walker, 38). A person may be considered “Neurodivergent” without being considered disabled. It is the lack of accommodation in society that disables individuals. They are disabled by society being designed in ways that do not enable them. For example, a person might have “Aphantasia,” which means they do not imagine things in pictures. An Aphantasiac person does not necessarily experience disablement regularly. Some people go their entire lives thinking people are being hyperbolic or poetic when they say things like, “Picture this in your mind.” It does not occur to them that other people see pictures in their minds when someone tells them to imagine something. If they are unaware that Aphantasia is a thing, it is unlikely they are disabled by being Aphantasiac. 

To be clear, that doesn’t mean Aphantasia can’t disable a person. A person may also be considered “Neurodivergent” without being a member of a “Neurominority.” For example, being brain-injured in a car accident would not make you a member of a historically oppressed group of people. There may be aspects of having a brain injury that is not accommodated by society, which cause you to be disabled, but that is not the same as being part of a historically oppressed group of people. 

An example of using “Neurodivergent” correctly would be, “My family has members who are Neurodivergent, although not all of them are Autistic. For example, I have a family member who is Dyslexic.” Most of the time, I mean Autistic. Therefore, I say Autistic. If I were talking about all the Neurodivergencies in my family, it would not be appropriate to say “Autistic” when that isn’t what I mean.

Another example would be my father. He is Autistic, but he also has had TMIs, like mini-strokes. In my opinion, these have changed his personality. If I were trying to address this, it would be more accurate to say that he is Neurodivergent or that he is “Multiply Neurodivergent.” 

One of Walker’s three warnings about this vocabulary was to never use “Neurodivergent” as a euphemism for “Autistic.” That is one of the mistakes I made in the past when I used the vocabulary to deflect criticism from the Person-first crowd. When I didn’t feel like prefacing what I wanted to say with a talk about language choices, I would say “Neurodivergent” rather than “Autistic.” Of course, I almost always meant “Autistic.” I was hiding behind language I thought would be given a pass. 

Now it’s time to talk about a significant word to expand and deepen the discourse around autism. This word is “Neurotypical.” Walker said the word “means having a style of neurocognitive functioning that falls within the dominant societal standards of “normal”‘ (Walker, 40). The use of “Neurotypical” is another area where I’ve made mistakes, most notably, using it to mean non-autistic. Walker said that Neurotypical is the opposite of Neurodivergent and that Neurodivergent and Autistic are not synonyms. Walker warns that Neurotypical and Normal are not synonyms. Therefore, Autistic and Normal are not opposites. 

Some people object to the word “Neurotypical.” Generally, these objections come from people who would be considered Neurotypical based on the definition. One common complaint is that everyone has a unique brain. Therefore, it is inaccurate to call anyone’s brain “typical.” As Barney, the Purple Dinosaur would say, “You are special, you’re the only one, you’re the only one like you. There isn’t another in the whole wide world who can do the things you do.” Walker said this objection comes from a false assumption that “Typical” is synonymous with “Normal.” The Neurodiversity Paradigm rejects the idea that there is such a “Normal Brain.” 

Walker said an analogy is helpful to understand what the Neurodiversity Paradigm means by “Neurotypical.” The analogy they use compares neurodiversity to the diversity of gender and sexuality. Walker said, “The pathology paradigm’s construction and idealization of normativity pervade the dominant culture⸺which means that the majority of people in the world still behave as if there’s such a thing as a normal brain or mind, in much the same way that the majority of people in the world still behave as if culturally constructed heteronormative gender roles are “normal” and “natural”‘ (Walker, 57).

Once again, Neurodivergent and Neurotypical are opposites, but Neurotypical and Normal are not synonymous. Therefore, Neurodivergent is not the opposite of Normal. The concept of “Normal” is a tool of oppression. In the same way that people are pressured into the performance of heteronormativity, meaning the restrictive binary heterosexual masculine or feminine gender role assigned to them at birth, other people are forced into the performance of neuronormativity

Walker describes Neuronormativity as “the performance of the local dominant culture’s current prevailing images of how a so-called “normal” person with a so-called “normal” mind thinks and looks and behaves” (Walker, 57).  Many Autistic people, including myself, refer to this performance as “Masking.” It is something that Autistic women and girls typically feel more pressure to do. It is also why Autistic women and girls usually experience more anxiety because they constantly suppress who they are to keep the mask of neuronormativity in place. 

I’m very forgiving to Autistic people who use the term “Neurotypical” incorrectly, out of anger and frustration. It’s something to which I can relate. 

One of the best parts of Nick Walker’s book is that after explaining all of these terms, Walker wrote a description of autism from the neurodiversity paradigm perspective. Walker said people could share this description as long as they give them proper credit. In light of Walker’s permission, I will read “What is Autism?” by Nick Walker in its entirety.

“Autism is a genetically-based human neurological variant. The complex set of interrelated characteristics that distinguish autistic neurology from non-autistic neurology is not yet fully understood, but current evidence indicates that the central distinction is that autistic brains are characterized by particularly high levels of synaptic connectivity and responsiveness. This tends to make the autistic individual’s subjective experience more intense and chaotic than that of non-autistic individuals: on both the sensorimotor and cognitive levels, the autistic mind tends to register more information, and the impact of each bit of information tends to be both stronger and less predictable. 

Autism is a developmental phenomenon, meaning that it begins in utero and has a pervasive influence on development, on multiple levels, throughout the lifespan. Autism produces distinctive, atypical ways of thinking, moving, interaction, and sensory and cognitive processing. One analogy that has often been made is that autistic individuals have a different neurological “operating system” than non-autistic individuals. 

According to current estimates, somewhat between one percent and two percent of the world’s population is autistic. While the number of individuals diagnosed as autistic has increased continuously over the past few decades, evidence suggests that this increase in diagnosis is the result of increased public and professional awareness, rather than an actual increase in the prevalence of autism. 

Despite underlying neurological commonalities, autistic individuals are vastly different from one another. Some autistic individuals exhibit exceptional cognitive talents. However, in the context of a society designed around the sensory, cognitive, developmental, and social needs of non-autistic individuals, autistic individuals are almost always disabled to some degree⸺sometimes quite obviously, and sometimes more subtly. 

The realm of social interaction is one context in which autistic individuals tend to consistently be disabled. An autistic child’s sensory experience of the world is more intense and chaotic than that of a non-autistic child, and the ongoing task of navigating and integrating that experience thus occupies more of the autistic child’s attention and energy. This means the autistic child has less attention and energy available to focus on the subtleties of social interaction. Difficulty meeting the social expectations of non-autistics often results in social rejection, which further compounds social difficulties and impedes social development. For this reason, autism has been frequently misconstrued as being essentially a set of “social and communication deficits,” by those who are unaware that the social challenges faced by autistic individuals are just by-products of the intense and chaotic nature of autistic sensory and cognitive experience. 

Autism is still widely regarded as a “disorder,” but this view has been challenged in recent years by proponents of the neurodiversity model, which holds that autism and other neurocognitive variants are simply part of the natural spectrum of human biodiversity, like variations in ethnicity or sexual orientation (which have also been pathologized in the past). Ultimately, to describe autism as a disorder represents a value judgment rather than a scientific fact” (Walker, 85-87). 

Okay, guys, that’s all I have for you this week. Thank you all so much for clicking on my content. I’m brand-spanking-new to this, but I think this is where I’m supposed to ask you guys to click to subscribe, turn on your notifications, so you know right away when I upload more content, leave a comment, and give a review. I would be very honoured if you were to share this content on your social media, especially within your Autistic circles. You can find me under Limbic Noodle on Twitter. I have an Instagram account, but I don’t understand Instagram, if I’m honest. I hope I have been sharing things correctly there. I mostly try to share Indigenous advocacy and pride items on Instagram. I also have a Tumblr account, but full disclosure, it’s mostly a spot for my sister to park certain content when her executive function fails, and she has trouble sorting it. I’m not on Facebook under Limbic Noodle, and I’m not sure I will be. I have a WordPress Blog under “Autism and The Human with Limbic Noodle.” 

I am working on Youtube content to accompany this podcast. I have commissioned an avatar from @ChibiMagicDiary on Twitter to use for this purpose. This Youtube content is another level of labour, so it will take longer to be available. 

I want to take this moment to admit that I am encountering some executive dysfunction when it comes to the issue of commodification of this work. As I stated earlier, many people are making money off Autistic experiences. I am not ashamed to say that I would love to be one of these people, which I think is fair since I am also Autistic. However, I’m a little overwhelmed by the question of how to do this. Next week I will be talking about Autistic Masking. Look for that upload on the same day of the week.

Until next week, 

Keep on Noodling.

Walker, N. (2021). Neuroqueer heresies: Notes on the neurodiversity paradigm, autistic empowerment, and postnormal possibilities. Autonomous Press.

Please listen to the Podcast. Leave reviews and ratings. Share on your social media. Thank you.


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