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Vendetta Music Fest (and everyone else) vs. Our Loved People: They’re Promoting and Funding Ableism in Our Name

You can’t have our neurodivergent art while advocating to eliminate neurodivergent people.
We can’t keep Austin weird by eliminating weird from society and the gene pool.
We must combat ableism throughout the SxSW and Austin communities. It’s hard to enjoy the party when people keep fundraising for your abuse and thanking themselves for abusing you.

We, Stimpunks

TLDR: Donate for Anti-Ableism and Against Radical Behaviorism

TLDR: Donate to Autistic People of Color Fund because events during SxSW promote radical behaviorism.

To Vendetta Music Fest and ATX Event Systems

This is Ryan Boren of Stimpunks Foundation, a nonprofit foundation and community by and for Neurodivergent and Disabled people. Unlike the autism charities your organizations and events promote, we do not support abusive autistic conversion therapy or eugenics.

I can tell you why your neurodivergent artists and their allies are upset and leaving.

Read stimpunks.org. Engage with it openly and honestly.

Then ask yourself if you can support what these autism charities do to autistic people, who have been eloquent and overwhelming in describing the legacy of abuse of ABA and other autism therapies. We have ABA and radical behaviorism survivors here at Stimpunks.

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 websites, articles, scholarly essays, blog posts, Facebook 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.”

Alfie Kohn, Autism and Behaviorism
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

Some artists have decided they cannot be party to funding ableism. We must elevate ableism as one of the injustices of the world. These artists would not do business with an event promoting racism. Likewise, they will not do business with an event promoting ableism.


  1. Oppression, prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination against disabled people on the basis of actual or presumed disability.
  2. The belief that people are superior or inferior, have better quality of life, or have lives more valuable or worth living on the basis of actual or perceived disability.

Source: Autistic Hoya – A blog by Lydia X. Z. Brown: Definitions

Will Vendetta Music Fest and it associates at ATX Event Systems change the charity for the event to one run by autistic people and supported by autistic communities?

Our communities are awaiting your reply. Our people who have survived the abuse y’all are about to celebrate and fund are waiting. Our neurodivergent artists who left in protest of this assault against our people are waiting. You can’t have our neurodivergent art while advocating to eliminate neurodivergent people.

Further, is a single autistic adult involved in planning this event that supposedly benefits us? I highly doubt it, because then you would know not to platform abusive therapies and eugenics universally rejected by us.

Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other. Ableism is intertwined in our culture, due to many limiting beliefs about what disability does or does not mean, how able-bodied people learn to treat people with disabilities and how we are often not included at the table for key decisions.

Ableism – Center for Disability Rights

DisCrit empathizes with John Powell’s words, “I feel like I’ve been spoken for and I feel like I’ve been spoken about, but rarely do I feel like I’ve been spoken to” (cited in Dalton, 1987). A similar mantra in dis/ability rights circles, “Nothing about us, without us” (Charlton, 2000, p. 3), also speaks to this tenet. DisCrit, therefore, seeks to disrupt the tradition of ignoring the voices of traditionally marginalized groups and instead privileges insider voices (Matsuda, 1987).

DisCrit-Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education (Disability, Culture, and Equity Series) (p. 21). Teachers College Press. Kindle Edition.

You’re throwing a party on the world stage of SxSW to fund our abuse and saying you’re doing it for us. It’s hurtful and obscene. Y’all are taking up all the autism fundraising that could be helping instead of hurting people.

And if it turns out that, contrary to widespread assumptions, behavior modification techniques aren’t supported by solid data even when used with autistic kids, why would we persist in manipulating anyone with positive reinforcement? A rigorous new meta-analysis utterly debunks the claim that applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is the only intervention for children with autism that’s “evidence-based.” In fact, it raises serious questions about whether ABA merits that description at all.

You might assume that those who use the phrase “evidence-based practice” (EBP) are offering a testable claim, asserting that the practices in question are supported by good data. In reality, the phrase is more of an all-purpose honorific, wielded to silence dissent, intimidate critics, and imply that anyone who criticizes what they’re doing is rejecting science itself. It’s reminiscent of the way a religious leader might declare that what we’ve been told to do is “God’s will”: End of discussion.

Autism and Behaviorism – Alfie Kohn

I think we’re just going to have to let the term “evidence-based” go. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the extent to which a practice is described as evidence-based, and the quality of evidence supporting its use.

Dr. Kristen Bottema-Beutel on Twitter

We educate CEOs and organizations on this stuff. We would like to educate you so that you understand the harm you are enabling. Attempts so far have been dismissed, ignored, and blocked.

In the city of weird, y’all are funding and celebrating radical behaviorism and eugenics that seek to eliminate weird from society and the gene pool.

Every barrier that Autistic adults break down today is one that Autistic children will not face tomorrow.

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

ABA is a dinosaur.

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?

Note: A representative of Vendetta Music Fest directly contacting neurodivergent artists was sent several revisions of this draft over the course of days. The progression of the drafts showed the processing and refining of our pain and anger and hope and despair into what you read now. They were offered opportunity to provide feedback and an official statement. They were given our targeted publication time. We offered honest, candid, and vulnerable communication, as is the way of our people. They went silent and had not replied at time of press, as is the way of too many.

The stress of this has been immense. I’m burnt out.

“A state of pervasive exhaustion, loss of function, increase in autistic traits, and withdrawal from life that results from continuously expending more resources than one has coping with activities and environments ill-suited to one’s abilities and needs.” In other words, autistic burnout is the result of being asked to continuously do more than one is capable of without sufficient means for recovery.

 THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: Autistic Burnout: An Interview With Researcher Dora Raymaker

“Being autistic has always given me a strong sense of justice and fairness, and a burning drive to do the right thing and to fight for it, even when it seems like struggling against the weight of the world. This seems very related to my extreme empathy, which is also tied to my experience of being autistic.”
“Knowing that injustice or violence exist anywhere is deeply painful for me, whether it directly targets me or not, and I believe that I must do anything within my capacity to work for a world where none of us have to be afraid anymore. If I were not autistic, I am certain I would not have the same drive as I do now.”

7 activists tell us the best thing about living with autism

To SxSW Community

We must combat ableism throughout the SxSW and Austin communities. It’s hard to enjoy the party when people keep fundraising for your abuse and thanking themselves for abusing you. It’s hard to enjoy SxSW Edu when it also needs to be tended for radical behaviorism. See stimpunks.org for our upcoming track at Conference to Restore Humanity on this very issue. Mainstream ed-tech is dominated by behaviorism that should not be platformed. It teaches educators to systematically abuse us. The deficit model is a business model, and ed-tech is a monster.

The number of autistic young people who stop attending mainstream schools appears to be rising.

My research suggests these absent pupils are not rejecting learning but rejecting a setting that makes it impossible for them to learn.

We need to change the circumstances.

Walk in My Shoes – The Donaldson Trust

There are monsters because there is a lack of care and an absence of justice in the work we do in education and education technology.

 The Curse of the Monsters of Education Technology

SxSW should be a venue for being different. It is, but also isn’t, not for us, the most different. You are trying to correct and prevent us instead of help us be our authentic selves, selves that are accepted despite our spiky profiles, inability to speak, and inability to tie shoelaces.

Is Stephen Hawking low-functioning? Is being able to tie one’s shoes the pinnacle of human achievement?

We’ve been on quite a journey trying to change things, especially here in Austin. But it’s so hard to compete with these highly profitable non-disabled led charities. They can be so distracting. Disability led orgs find ourselves battling them instead of doing the work we set out to do.

SxSW seems like a likely ally for neurodivergent people such as ourselves. We are looking for support in building spaces where we can show up, be who we are, and share our art without being distracted by our oppressors who still find ways of overshadowing and silencing us.

To Certain Former Partners

Imagine-a-Way Foundation funds and promotes autistic conversion therapy.

The Broad Institute effectively practices eugenics.

You advertised them on your flyers, after being told about the psychological scarring and long lasting harmful effects. That really hurt. Seeing those images on your flyer broke me, because it made clear how little people care. I regret coming at y’all so hard with an early and emotional draft of this piece, but I felt that hurt deeply. I’m sorry if I hurt you deeply.

Your response to us explaining the harm on your flyer was to block us.

To All

We exist as friction. The work that I do; it’s wildly painful.

Changing the Disability Design Narrative – UX Cake Podcast

Blocked. Ignored. Dismissed. Abandoned by allies who can’t leave money on the table. Allies who won’t take the least little risk on our behalf. Who won’t speak a single challenging word to power. Who will never take a role in social change. Who will never pressure the status quo.

Over and over, because few care. Ableism doesn’t count. We’ve been on quite a journey getting anyone to care about the funding and platforming of ableism and radical behaviorism in our community, facing ableist aggression, micro and macro, along the way. Presumed incompetent because we use a wheelchair. Presumed drunk or on drugs and denied opportunity and audience when we slur our speech even after informing people we’re neurodivergent. Yelled at to neurological consequence. Presumed all kinds of ignorant things when we tell someone we are autistic.

Few really give a shit about the truly weird in the city of weird. Autistic children are just marketing and grist for industry as everybody hustles to bank on our misery.

Against all that, we exist and resist as friction.

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.


Very Grand Emotions

Society feels thoughtlessly and consistently sub-ethical and uncurious compared to our very grand emotions.

Justice, equality, fairness, mercy, longsuffering, Work, Passion, knowledge, and above all else, Truth. Those are my primary emotions.

Very Grand Emotions: How Autistics and Neurotypicals Experience Emotions Differently » NeuroClastic

Black and White

This is the clincher. You have to live up to autistic standards of honesty if you are to convince us to follow a different path or to change our minds.

If you aren’t willing to make sure that what you ask of us or want us to believe is reasonable, fair and true, then you won’t have our respect and the relationship is doomed.

The influences that distort the morality of those around us simply don’t penetrate our conscious minds.

Let’s get black and white.

If you wouldn’t support gay conversion therapy, you shouldn’t support autistic conversion therapy.

Autistic and queer folks share some dark history-and some bad actors. Chapter 7 of NeuroTribes, Fighting the Monster, shares the legacy of Ole Ivar Lovaas, the twisted father of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and conversion therapy. He applied his abusive, torturous techniques to autistic kids and “sissy boys” to make them “indistinguishable from their peers“. He had little regard for their humanity-they were engineering projects.

Neurodiversity and Gender Non-conformity, Dysphoria and Fluidity

Everyone involved in Vendetta Music Fest and other events platforming radical behaviorism and eugenics has an important ethical decision to make. Show them stimpunks.org so they can make that decision informed.

I will move carefully and fix things. I will make things that help people, and I will not make things that harm people. I will bake ethics into everything I do.

Creed – Stimpunks Foundation

What’s your creed?

What do you call the suppression and elimination of an identity group, of a community, of a culture, of a people?

I call it violent bigotry.

Violent bigotry against our loved people.

Do you support violent bigotry against neurominorities?

That is the question. That is what it boils down to.

stimpunks.org explains why.

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.


Use Your Power; Ethics are Demonstrated

Every single one of us has a moral obligation to use whatever resources we have – time, money, knowledge, skills, emotional energy, access to physical resources – … in service of justice, and fighting against injustice and oppression and violence in all of its forms, structural and individual, subtle and overt.

Making Work Accessible, Wherever it Happens – Distributed.blog

Just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.

Toni Morrison Talks Love

Those associated with events supporting harmful autism charities have a chance to demonstrate that you don’t support profiting off and funding the misery of our people. You have a chance to take an ethical stand, of whatever size you can take. You have a chance to help out the punks. Even after these events conclude, build pressure by letting organizers know you don’t like their choices and behavior. Become an ally to people so marginalized that abusive therapies were invented to control how we move and speak. Be help against the onslaught, not part of the onslaught.

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.


Read stimpunks.org. Read our Mission page. Read our Creed. That’s worth fighting for, with whatever power you have. Little acts of pressure against power add up. Without y’all, we are easy to ignore.

You Can’t Have This Art

These artists did the work of allies. They used what power they had to talk to organizers about our concerns and then pulled their art, leaving money on the table. Doing the first is what we ask all allies. Doing the second is next level. Our thanks to them is bottomless. Few choose to be allies. Fewer still take action like these folks have. They are going to bat for some of the most marginalized people on earth. They load-shared our burden of existing as friction.

Those with the least power in the industry of SxSW are making the biggest sacrifices. Ain’t it the way?

They platform our destruction. We build community in response.

These artists did what they could to exert pressure. You don’t have to pull your work to join us. We know you gotta eat in this dystopian world. Just talk to the organizers and say you are not okay with this and maybe even say you won’t work with them in the future if their events fund against autistic community preferences. Heck, just reading this far merits some ally cookies. Thank you, thank you, thank you for witnessing our appeal.

Now, feast your senses.

Anti-Ableist Art

These artists join us in a message of anti-ableism and celebration.

Heike Blakley is a self-taught, emerging artist working with a wide array of mediums such as acrylic, oil, watercolor, pencil, charcoal, pastel, mixed media, pen & ink.

Also specializing in resin art, jewelry making, woodwork, clay sculptures, fabric art and poetry.

Using her creativity as a form of learning and for meditative purposes, she is determined to, “absorb as much “collective knowledge,” as she is able to grasp in one lifetime and effectively communicate understanding through art.”

Home | Heike Blakley, Heike Vogt (@hblkly) • Instagram

The artist hopes to convey this: that the universe is given forth folded and unfolded. Although explicit understanding helps, it is too cumbersome, and should only provide refinement to something already greater that exists.
That greater thing is what was given to the artist first by the practice of origami. An enlivening of the intuitive mind, experience with a universe of many dimensions, and the promise of creation revealed when one folds a flat square into the likeness of a higher dimensional thing. That inspiration reaches a young mind in a powerful way.
The artist wants the viewer to see proof of what their intuitive mind already knows is true, the universe is a multidimensional phenomenon and the ability to understand its nature already exists within us each.
The artist hopes the viewer will be inspired to seek the understanding of freedoms available to the individual inspired by the exposure to artistic expressions, and of a nature of dimensionality unimaginably greater than the object presented here.

Adriel Jeremiah Wool
Pseudo Proxima by Adriel Jeremiah Art

Raised between the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and a small farming community in Wisconsin, Kyle gained an appreciation of the land, wildlife and the beauty of nature.  Kyle grew up as a 3rd generation artist, his grandfather was an oil painter and his mother ran a stained glass business out of their home in Wisconsin.  There was no shortage of art projects, outdoor activities, hunting, fishing, camping and gardening.  Post college, Kyle traveled and moved back to Colorado, Seattle and now Austin.  He has been living in downtown cities since college.  The clash of these two timelines reflects the duality expression in most of his work. This duality can also be seen through his passion for the skate, snow, music, tattoo and architecture world.

Custom Artwork | Cryptic Creative | Austin
Kyle Duce (@cryptic_creative) • Instagram photos

More artists coming as we gather images, bios, rights, and informed consent.

Special thanks to the artists at PunkFlowers–a neurodiverse artist coalition led by neurodivergent and disabled people–who have been steady allies through all of this. We are allies in return. We got your backs.

The marginalized are the only ones helping the marginalized. Again, ain’t it the way?

We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.

The Combahee River Collective Statement – COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE

A Good Autism Charity

The Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence

The Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment exists to provide direct support, mutual aid, and reparations by and for autistic people of color.

Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment

Join Stimpunks Foundation in donating to the Autistic People of Color Fund. They are a legitimate autism charity run by and for autistic people. Your money will help instead of harm when sent to Lydia.

Give to the Fund

The Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment practices redistributive justice and mutual aid by returning and sharing money directly to and with autistic people of color. We provide microgrants to Black, Brown, Native, Asian, and mixed-race people in the autistic community for survival, organizing, leisure, and pleasure.





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