Mutual Aid and Human-Centered Learning for Neurodivergent and Disabled Creators

Announcement: WGMG + W Hotel + Stimpunks

It is with great pleasure that we announce a collaboration between WGMG, the W Hotel and Stimpunks. We are honored that WGMG will donate a portion of its proceeds from the W collaboration to Stimpunks for mutual giving to disabled and neurodivergent artists.

Stimpunks Foundation sponsors and employs neurodivergent and disabled creators and amplifies their work to our clients and throughout society. We exist for the direct support and mutual aid of neurodivergent and disabled people.

We complement mutual aid to creators with learning spaces for creators. Stimpunks Foundation serves neurodivergent and disabled people unserved by public and private schools. Via equity, access, empathy, and inclusivity, we build community learning space respectful of all types of bodyminds.

We pursue passion-based, human-centered learning compatible with neurodiversity and the social model of disability. We create paths to equity and access for our learners. We create Cavendish bubbles of peer respite and collaborative niche construction where we can find relief from an intense world designed against us.

Our research initiative focuses on the sweet spot of digital sociology, neurodiversity studies, disability studies, and syncretism, in the open. We want to improve the scientific experience for the disabled and the neurodivergent by restoring the humanities.

We also help businesses and organizations increase their knowledge and practice of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) by analyzing company practices and coaching leaders to dismantle ableism in their spaces. According to the Harvard Business Review, “There are more than one billion people worldwide – around 15% of the population – living with a disability. As workers, they can ease talent shortages and add to the organizational diversity that drives better decision-making and innovation.” Neurodiversity-friendly forms of collaboration hold the potential to transform pathologically competitive and toxic teams and cultures into highly collaborative teams and larger cultural units that work together easier and with more success.

Our additional services include digital and physical accessibility audits, sensitivity reads, and other offerings that focus on increasing DEI in the workplace. Client services are how we live our mission to employ neurodivergent and disabled people as well as how we raise capital for grantmaking.

Mutual Aid

Real help against the onslaught. Staying alive is a lot of work for a disabled person in an ableist society.

Learning Space

Anti-ableist space for passion-based, human-centered learning compatible with neurodiversity and the social model of disability.

Open Research

Digital sociology, neurodiversity studies, disability studies, and syncretism, in the open. Improving science by restoring the humanities.

Consulting

Stay relevant in a constantly changing world. Dismantle ableism in your spaces.

⛑ Mutual Aid: Real help against the onslaught

Staying alive is a lot of work for a disabled person in an ableist society…

DISABILITY VISIBILITY: FIRST PERSON STORIES FROM THE 21ST CENTURY

We pay neurodivergent and disabled people to work and live. We pay expenses like rent and medical bills as well as buy medical equipment or other necessities. Unlike most foundations, we support organizations and individuals directly, maximizing our impact in neurodivergent and disabled people’s lives and communities. Individual grantees do not have to go through third-party organizations or government agencies to access support. According to the Human Rights Funders Network in 2021, “One in seven persons in the world has a disability. Yet, grants for persons with disabilities constitute just 2% of all human rights funding.” Further, accessing these grant funds is challenging and many application processes present barriers to entry for individuals who need to apply for assistance.

We believe that direct support to individuals is the most effective approach to alleviating the barriers and challenges that prevent neurodivergent and disabled people from thriving in neurotypical and ableist environments. Our application process is simple and our direct payments have the potential to transform how neurodivergent and disabled people access philanthropic capital.

I would like to honour all the autistic people who survive the care system somehow.

All those who survive extreme ‘therapy’.

All those who are brought to their knees, reading hellish descriptions of their loved people.

And all who did not survive this onslaught.

ANN MEMMOTT PGC🌈 ON TWITTER

To all our neurodivergent and disabled friends and chosen family who didn’t survive the onslaught.

RIP Greg Alton, Founding Stimpunk

yellow blue red pink purple green multicolored open umbrellas hanging on strings under blue sky

Asking for help is a wonderful way to build community & engage in meaningful collaboration. In asking for help you also uplift others who want to show up for you.

Just a reminder that asking for help is a contribution

What I have always been hoping to accomplish is the creation of community. Community is magic. Community is power. Community is resistance.

Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century
rainbow

Thank you so much @stimpunks for supporting & believing in me & my artwork.

It’s okay to be you. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to have a disability. Never give up on yourself.

Jasmine Slater

If y’all care about me, read what @stimpunks is saying.

Liana McCrea

Huge thank you to @stimpunks for this generator so if we lose power, the oxygen concentrator can still run! I can’t thank you enough!!

Karrie Higgins

Black mother and daughter holding hands while wearing sparkly ball gowns and crowns. Credit: Jasmine Slater
Black mother and daughter holding hands while wearing sparkly ball gowns and crowns. Credit: Jasmine Slater

Neurodiversity rocks! We make rock ‘n’ roll and inclusive education.
Lately I’ve been feeling out of tune out of tune
I don’t know why but I would like to know why
And I want to get back in tune
Out of tune that’s what I am

Being out of tune pains my head
(can’t get out of bed)
Hurts from being out of tune and
I just so want to get back in tune
Out of tune that’s what I am out of tune
“Out of Tune” by Josephmooon

♿️📚Anti-Ableist Space for Human-Centered Learning

We also believe that the need for anti-ableist learning space for neurodivergent and disabled people is now.

We create anti-ableist space for passion-based, human-centered learning compatible with neurodiversity and the social model of disability. We create space for those most ill-served by “empty pedagogy, behaviorism, and the rejection of equity“. We create paths to equity and access for our learners so they can collaborate on distributed, multi-age, cross-disciplinary teams with a neurodiverse array of creatives doing work that impacts community.

Creating paths to equity and access for all children remains the grand challenge of public education in America.

Equity provides resources so that educators can see all our children’s strengths. Access provides our children with the chance to show us who they are and what they can do. Empathy allows us to see children as children, even teens who may face all the challenges that poverty and other risk factors create. Inclusivity creates a welcoming culture of care so that no one feels outside the community.

Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools
multicolored umbrella

A human-centered classroom is needed now more than ever. In a time of growing uncertainty, global challenges, and increased threats to democracy, children need space to question, reflect, and actualize a meaning to their lives. These young people, along with their educators, will build a new future of love, care, and respect for all.

A Guide to Human Centric Education

The Need

Space without Behaviorism, Segregation, or Ableism

The Answer

Respectful Connection

The Feeling

Electric Belonging and Soaring Inclusion

The Learning

Passion-Based, Human-Centered Learning Compatible With Neurodiversity and the Social Model of Disability

♿️ The Need: Space without Behaviorism, Segregation, or Ableism

Therefore, eugenics is an erasure of identity through force, whereas radical behaviorism is an erasure of identity through “correction.” This all assumes a dominant culture that one strives to unquestionably maintain.

Empty Pedagogy, Behaviorism, and the Rejection of Equity

Neurodivergent and disabled learners need anti-ableist space, and we need it now.

➗ In anti-ableist space, there is no segregation of “special”.

Although human diversity, the social model of disability and inclusion as human rights framework concepts are developing traction, for much of society the “special story” still goes like this:

A child with “special needs” catches the “special bus” to receive “special assistance” in a “special school” from “special education teachers” to prepare them for a “special” future living in a “special home” and working in a “special workshop”.

Does that sound “special” to you?

The word “special” is used to sugar-coat segregation and societal exclusion – and its continued use in our language, education systems, media etc serves to maintain those increasingly antiquated “special” concepts that line the path to a life of exclusion and low expectations.

“He ain’t special, he’s my brother” – Time to ditch the phrase “special needs” – Starting With Julius

🥢🥕 In anti-ableist space, there is no 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 websitesarticlesscholarly essaysblog postsFacebook 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.

How is it possible that their voices have not transformed the entire discussion? Suppose you participated in implementing a widely used strategy for dealing with homelessness, only to learn that the most outspoken critics of that intervention were homeless people. Would that not stop you in your tracks? What would it say about you if it didn’t? And yet the consistent, emphatic objections of autistic people don’t seem to trouble ABA practitioners at all. Indeed, one critical analysis of ethics in this field notes that “autistics have been excluded from all committees, panels, boards, etc., charged with developing, directing, and assessing ABA research and treatment programs.”

Autism and Behaviorism

Trainers are rejecting behaviorism because it harms animals emotionally and psychologically. What does that say about classrooms that embrace it?

Empty Pedagogy, Behaviorism, and the Rejection of Equity

🪙 In anti-ableist space, there is no “earning your token”.

When I was a little girl, I was autistic. And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy.

Quiet Hands | Just Stimming…

🫀🧠 In anti-ableist space, we are active agents in our own embodied experience.

The locus of pathology exists not in the autistic person, but in the interaction between a hostile environment and the subjugated autistic. It is essential for parents, practitioners, educators, and autistic people themselves to ask the crucial question— Is the autistic a machine, or an organism? Are we active agents in our own embodied experience, or are we a locus of behavior? It is not with defiance, but autonomy, that I declare as an autistic person— I am not a manifestation of stimuli and response. I am agential. I am Autonomously Autistic.

Despite the field of Disability Studies’ rhetorical progress toward new models of disability, Autistic subjectivity is still locked within medical pathologies and assumptions of deficit. Self-Determination Theory provides an intriguing contrast to other psychological frameworks, making it possible to reconceptualize and re-localize deficit. We can then disrupt our assumptions and form new principles that empower autistic people to develop in autonomous, competent, connected, and self-directed ways.

Self-Determination Theory positions itself as directly and unapologetically antithetical to behaviorism, a fact that manifests in the literature repeatedly in behaviorist commentary…

Autonomously Autistic | Canadian Journal of Disability Studies
The Effects of Behavior-Based Models on Neurodevelopment and Learning

Behaviorism is a repudiation, an almost willful dismissal, of subjective experience.
— Alfie Kohn

This is a child’s heart in fight or flight mode, constantly, that is being bombarded with all these instructions and prompting.
— Professor Elizabeth Torres

❤️ The Answer: Respectful Connection

crop field under rainbow and cloudy skies at dayime

The notion of Neurodiversity can allow you to embrace your child for who they are, and it can empower you to look for respectful solutions to everyday problems. It can also help you to raise your child to feel empowered and content in their own skin.

Respectfully Connected | Neurodiversity Paradigm Parenting FAQs

Ableism is ingrained in our thought processes due to the very nature of the field of speech-language pathology.

Ableism in Speech-Language Pathology—It is Not Just Autism: Part 1 — Rachel Dorsey: Autistic SLP, LLC

Instead of behaviorism, segregation, and therapies ingrained with ableism, we practice respectful connection.

Instead of intensive speech therapy – we use a wonderful mash-up of communication including AAC, pictures scribbled on notepads, songs, scripts, and lots of patience and time.

Instead of sticker charts and time outs, or behavior therapy – we give hugs, we listen, solve problems together, and understand and respect that neurodivergent children need time to develop some skills

Instead of physical therapy – we climb rocks and trees, take risks with our bodies, are carried all day if we are tired, don’t wear shoes, paint and draw, play with lego and stickers, and eat with our fingers.

Instead of being told to shush, or be still- we stim, and mummies are joyful when they watch us move in beautiful ways.

Respectfully Connected | #HowWeDo Respectful Parenting and Support

The ways we relate are different. Push for the things your expectations tell you are normal, and you’ll find frustration, disappointment, resentment, maybe even rage and hatred. Approach respectfully, without preconceptions, and with openness to learning new things, and you’ll find a world you could never have imagined.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

⚡️🦅🌈 The Feeling: Electric Belonging and Soaring Inclusion

hot air balloons under blue sky

How can we cultivate spaces where everyone has that soaring sense of inclusion?

s.e. smith

🤲 We create crip space that evokes the electrifying feeling of belonging.

It is very rare, as a disabled person, that I have an intense sense of belonging, of being not just tolerated or included in a space but actively owning it; “This space,” I whisper to myself, “is for me.” Next to me, I sense my friend has the same electrified feeling. This space is for us.

Members of many marginalized groups have this shared experiential touchstone, this sense of unexpected and vivid belonging and an ardent desire to be able to pass this experience along. Some can remember the precise moment when they were in a space inhabited entirely by people like them for the first time.

Crip space is unique, a place where disability is celebrated and embraced-something radical and taboo in many parts of the world and sometimes even for people in those spaces. The idea that we need our own spaces, that we thrive in them, is particularly troubling for identities treated socially as a negative; why would you want to self-segregate with the other cripples? For those newly disabled, crip space may seem intimidating or frightening, with expectations that don’t match the reality of experience-someone who has just experienced a tremendous life change is not always ready for disability pride or defiance, needing a kinder, gentler introduction.

This is precisely why they are needed: as long as claiming our own ground is treated as an act of hostility, we need our ground. We need the sense of community for disabled people created in crip space.

How can we cultivate spaces where everyone has that soaring sense of inclusion, where we can have difficult and meaningful conversations?

Because everyone deserves the shelter and embrace of crip space, to find their people and set down roots in a place they can call home.

Source: “The Beauty of Spaces Created for and by Disabled People” by s.e. smith in “Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the 21st Century“.

👩‍❤️‍👨 We foster the feeling of access intimacy.

Access intimacy is that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else “gets” your access needs. The kind of eerie comfort that your disabled self feels with someone on a purely access level. Sometimes it can happen with complete strangers, disabled or not, or sometimes it can be built over years. It could also be the way your body relaxes and opens up with someone when all your access needs are being met. It is not dependent on someone having a political understanding of disability, ableism or access. Some of the people I have experienced the deepest access intimacy with (especially able bodied people) have had no education or exposure to a political understanding of disability.

Access intimacy is also the intimacy I feel with many other disabled and sick people who have an automatic understanding of access needs out of our shared similar lived experience of the many different ways ableism manifests in our lives. Together, we share a kind of access intimacy that is ground-level, with no need for explanations. Instantly, we can hold the weight, emotion, logistics, isolation, trauma, fear, anxiety and pain of access. I don’t have to justify and we are able to start from a place of steel vulnerability. It doesn’t mean that our access looks the same, or that we even know what each other’s access needs are. It has taken the form of long talks into the night upon our first meeting; knowing glances shared across a room or in a group of able bodied people; or the feeling of instant familiarity to be able to ask for help or support.

Source: Access Intimacy: The Missing Link | Leaving Evidence

📚 The Learning: Passion-Based, Human-Centered Learning Compatible With Neurodiversity and the Social Model of Disability

a boy getting bullied by classmates inside the classroom

Dehumanizing practices do not belong in schools.

The Need

Learning is rooted in purpose finding and community relevance.

  1. Map a Path to Purpose
  2. Learn Experientially
  3. Connect to the Community
  4. Promote Literacy
  5. Create Cross-Disciplinary Classrooms

Social justice is the cornerstone to educational success.

  1. Support a Reflective Space
  2. Demand Inclusive Spaces
  3. Authenticate Student Voice
  4. Adopt Critical Pedagogy
  5. Utilize Restorative Justice

Dehumanizing practices do not belong in schools.

  1. Radically Reduce Homework
  2. Build Strong Relationships
  3. Eliminate Grading
  4. Redefine Assessment and End Testing
  5. Reform Food Systems

Learners are respectful toward each other’s innate human worth.

  1. Self-Direct Learning
  2. Support and Elevate Teachers
  3. Stay Buzzword Free
  4. Cooperate, Don’t Force Competition
  5. Support Multi-Age Classrooms

Source: The Need

⛺️🔥 Come As You Are to Cavendish Space

pattern branches tree design

niche construction may be every bit as important for survival as natural selection 

Reimagining Inclusion with Positive Niche Construction

We create Cavendish bubbles of peer respite and collaborative niche construction where we can find relief from an intense world designed against us.

Since reading NeuroTribes, I think of psychologically & sensory safe spaces suited to zone work as “Cavendish bubbles” and “Cavendish space”, after Henry Cavendish, the wizard of Clapham Common and discoverer of hydrogen. The privileges of nobility afforded room for his differences, allowing him the space and opportunity to become “one of the first true scientists in the modern sense.”

Let’s build psychologically safe homes of opportunity without the requirement of nobility or privilege. Replace the trappings of the compliance classroom with student-created context, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and BYOC (Bring/Build Your Own Comfort). Let’s hit thrift stores, buy lumber, apply some hacker ethos, and turn the compliance classroom into something psychologically safe and comfortable to a team of young minds engaged in passion-based learning. Inform spaces with neurodiversity and the social model of disability so that they welcome and include all minds and bodies. Provide quiet spaces for high memory statezone work where students can escape sensory overwhelmslip into flow states, and enjoy a maker’s schedule. Provide social spaces for collaboration and camaraderie. Create cave, campfire, and watering hole zones. Develop neurological curb cuts. Fill our classrooms with choice and comfort, instructional tolerance, continuous connectivity, and assistive technology.

In other words, make space for Cavendish. Make spaces for both collaboration and deep work.

Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism

We provide caves, campfires, and watering holes so that dandelions, tulips, and orchids alike can find respite. Everyone has 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.

bonfire

The campfire is a space where people gather to learn from an expert. In the days of yore, wise elders passed down insights through storytelling, and in doing so replicated culture for the next generation.

Australia’s Campfires, Caves, and Watering Holes
photo of man sitting on a cave

The cave is a private space where an individual can think, reflect, and transform learning from external knowledge to internal belief. 

Australia’s Campfires, Caves, and Watering Holes

The cave is a private space, where students can find that much needed alone time useful for reflection on their learning or just to recharge. (a necessary space for those students with Aspergers).

Campfires, Caves and Watering holes | Libraries, Youth and the Digital Age
elephant-herd-of-elephants-african-bush-elephant-africa-59989.jpeg
The watering hole is an informal space where peers can share information and discoveries, acting as both learner and teacher simultaneously. This shared space can serve as an incubator for ideas and can promote a sense of shared culture.It is an informal area, where students can share in collaborative learning experiences.

“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.”

“It’s Not Rocket Science” – NDTi

…positive niche construction is a strengths-based approach to educating students with disabilities. Armstrong describes positive niche construction in this way:

In the field of biology, the term niche construction is used to describe an emerging phenomenon in the understanding of human evolution. Since the days of Darwin, scientists have emphasized the importance of natural selection in evolution-the process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. In natural selection, the environment represents a static entity to which a species must either adapt or fail to adapt. In niche construction, however, the species acts directly upon the environment to change it, thereby creating more favorable conditions for its survival and the passing on of its genes. Scientists now say that niche construction may be every bit as important for survival as natural selection (Lewontin, 2010; Odling-Smee, Laland, & Feldman, 2003).

We see many examples of niche construction in nature: a beaver building a dam, bees creating a hive, a spider spinning a web, a bird building a nest. All of these creatures are changing their immediate environment in order to ensure their survival. Essentially, they’re creating their own version of a “least restrictive environment.” 

Reimagining Inclusion with Positive Niche Construction

♿️⚖️ We Create Anti-Ableist Space

It is time to celebrate our interdependence!

Collaboration allows us to create genuinely safe spaces.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

It is time to celebrate our interdependence! Collaboration allows us to create genuinely safe spaces for autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people. We should expect society to support us in establishing new forms of creative collaboration, and we should not be forced individually to be “included” in toxic exploitative environments.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

We create anti-ableist space for passion-based, human-centered learning compatible with neurodiversity and the social model of disability. We create space for those most ill-served by “empty pedagogy, behaviorism, and the rejection of equity“.

👋🧷🌳 Stimpunks Foundation Presents: Stimpunks Space

worms eyeview of green trees

Space

Coming in 2022, Stimpunks Space is where we actualize our philosophy.

Notice: Our donation form is in test mode while we verify new banking connections. Your credit card will not be charged while in this mode.

Stimpunks combines “stimming” + “punks” to evoke open and proud stimming, resistance to neurotypicalization, and the DIY culture of punk, disabled, and neurodivergent communities. Instead of hiding our stims, we bring them to the front.

Everything that was normally supposed to be hidden was brought to the front.

PUNK SUBCULTURE – WIKIPEDIA
Please complete this simple task
Push the buttons just like we ask
This step first and that step last
Over and over and do it fast
I’m watching everyone, feeling like a simpleton
Why can’t I get it done? I just want to scream and run

I don’t think like you
But I’m the one that’s called abnormal
This construct
Was built by petty tyrants
Am I on the level yet? (Level yet)
How did I do on your little test?
Get my brain to reset (Reset)
'Cause everything you say is static
Do I make a good pet? (Good pet)
Obey the commands or get the back of the hand
'Cause the world wasn’t built for a brain like mine
Change my mind, change my mind, change my mind
We stand together
We think apart
We stand together
We think apart

-- Neurodivergent by Rabbit Junk

Until ABA updates its scientific methods, its functions of behavior, and incorporates modern day psychology – including neurology, child development, educational psychology, and other vital research – it cannot be considered to be a safe, effective, or ethical field.

Behaviorism is Dead. How Do We Tell The (Autism) Parents? » NeuroClastic
Because we′re standing in the way of control
We will live our lives

-- Standing In the Way of Control

We are marginalized canaries in a social coalmine and Rawlsian barometers of society’s morality. It is deeply subversive to live proudly despite being living embodiments of our culture’s long standing ethical failings.

Our non-compliance is not intended to be rebellious. We simply do not comply with things that harm us. But since a great number of things that harm us are not harmful to most neurotypicals, we are viewed as untamed and in need of straightening up.

One of my favorite anecdotes from Asperger’s thesis is when he asks an autistic boy in his clinic if he believes in God. “I don’t like to say I’m not religious,” the boy replies, “I just don’t have any proof of God.” That anecdote shows an appreciation of autistic non-compliance, which Asperger and his colleagues felt was as much a part of their patients’ autism as the challenges they faced. Asperger even anticipated in the 1970s that autistic adults who “valued their freedom” would object to behaviorist training, and that has turned out to be true.

THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: On Hans Asperger, the Nazis, and Autism: A Conversation Across Neurologies
Hey, you ever stop to think that maybe we're all different?
Or that you can't just throw every student into the same system
Just examine resources and where they're placin' em
I'm just saying there's different students out there facing some pain
It's completely unfair to expect that they would behave the same
But go ahead, make it harder for one and watch them play the game
So real shit? I wrote this for the outcasts
What you have to offer is worthwhile, don't ever doubt that

-- Imaginary Numbers
I make the right mistakes
And I say what I mean

Spare Me From The Mold

If we were not threatening to the social order in some way, there would not be therapies designed to control how we move our bodies and communicate.

THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: On Hans Asperger, the Nazis, and Autism: A Conversation Across Neurologies