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Stimpunks Guide to the NeurodiVerse Issue #1: Education and Autistic Community

This research roundup showcases recent research regarding education and how autistic community improves educational outcomes.

THE ICARS REPORT ENGLAND: Restraint and Seclusion in England’s Schools

Restraint is a tool of control that conditions teachers to be unfazed by trauma in the name of compliance.

  • Behavioural approaches are being implemented to manage behaviours associated with disability
  • Rather than supporting accommodation needs in the school, children are punished for behaviours associated with their disabilities
  • Educators lack education and training in disability-affirming practices contributing to a culture that prioritizes control and policing of behaviours that are a reaction to being under-accommodated
  • Research into the factors that contribute to the use of restraint indicate that prioritising psychological safety and creating an inclusive culture are how to eliminate the use of restraint
ICARS Report – International Coalition Against Restraint and Seclusion

Autistic Adults as Educators – Exploring Parent Perceptions of Autistic Presenters

As we move towards a more connected society, information has become easier to access, digest, and disseminate. Through this process of increased connectivity, minority voices have gained access to spaces that were previously unavailable(Ashing et al., 2017). Understanding the ‘lived experience’ of minority groups has provided insight to broader stakeholder groups and helped improve services and outcomes (Bernard & Harris, 2019; Corby, Taggart, & Cousins, 2018; McAuliffe, Upshur, Sellen, & Di Ruggiero, 2019; Mouchet, Morgan, & Thomas, 2019; van Zelst, 2020). Autistic voices, often conspicuously absent from the narrative of their experiences, have been amplified by both autistic and non-autistic populations. For example, the past five years have seen a call to increased autistic inclusion in research (Nicolaidis et al., 2019), a rise in media representation (Wolff, 2018),and an increased presence in social media (Beykikhoshk, Arandjelović, Phung, Venkatesh, & Caelli, 2015).

This study is the first to explore how parents of autistic children perceive information from autistic adult presenters. Each of the seven participants reported a positive experience attending the presentations of autistic adults and wished to hear more information as a result. Additionally, parents attributed changes in their parenting behaviors and attitudes to insight gained from these experiences. For example, many parents began using and promoting identity-first language, implementing various sensory tools, and taking a step back to understand some of their child’s behaviors as communication of anxiety or a need.

While the idea of autistic people as educators may be simplistic in nature, the concept of having autistic adults share their experiences, expertise and knowledge is not yet mainstream. Organizations and educational institutions should work with autistic adults and autistic research networks to provide spaces where parents of autistic children and autistic adults can come together to help provide support for families who are raising autistic children. One of the parents in the study summarized this need, stating“it’s important to keep offering these experiences to community members because, if we don’t provide the platform for autistic adults to speak, we’re never going to hear them.”

View of Autistic Adults as Educators

‘It’s being a part of a grand tradition, a grand counter-culture which involves communities’: A qualitative investigation of autistic community connectedness

A sense of being connected to other autistic people has been reported anecdotally. Friendships and connectedness may be important to autistic people and beneficial for their wellbeing. Our research aimed to understand the autistic community by interviewing 20 autistic people about their experiences of being connected to other autistic people. Participants were interviewed in person, over video, using a text-based software to type or over email. Participants detailed three parts of autistic community connectedness: a sense of belonging, social connection with autistic friends and political connectedness. The friendships autistic people had with one another were deemed to be very important to participants because it gave them confidence, provided companionship and made them happy. Some participants did not experience connectedness to the autistic community. These participants also found autism to be less important to their identity and had fewer positive feelings about being autistic. This research is important as it raises awareness that community connectedness is viewed as important to this group. It is possible that community connectedness may help protect the mental health of autistic people when they face stigma or negative life experiences in society.

‘It’s being a part of a grand tradition, a grand counter-culture which involves communities’: A qualitative investigation of autistic community connectedness – Monique Botha, Bridget Dibb, David M Frost, 2022

A Human Centered Education: Ends Dehumanizing Practices

Where behaviorism fails to foster agency it simultaneously creates a framework for excluding neurodivergent and disabled students while enabling the policing of students from non-dominant cultural, linguistic, and racial backgrounds.

A Human Centered Education: Ends Dehumanizing Practices – YouTube
A Human Centered Education: Ends Dehumanizing Practices – YouTube

Come as You Are: Examining Autistic Identity Development and the Neurodiversity Movement through an Intersectional Lens

As we learn more about the twisted origins of the diagnostic category “autism,” it becomes increasingly unsurprising that many autistic people have called for a fundamental shift in how autism research and practice are conducted. A central premise of our paper is that autistic people have reframed the diagnostic category “autism,” once conceptualized as an innate inability to connect socially, into a social identity which they use as a rallying call for collective action, often under the banner of the neurodiversity movement (Kapp, 2020).

Come as You Are: Examining Autistic Identity Development and the Neurodiversity Movement through an Intersectional Lens – FullText – Human Development 2022, Vol. 66, No. 2 – Karger Publishers

A guide to neurodiversity in the early years

We have to stop assuming that every child is travelling down the same developmental pathway.

A guide to neurodiversity in the early years

In recent years, there has been an increasing dialogue about the best ways to support children who have developmental differences. These children are traditionally referred to as having special educational needs (SEN).

While this term was originally designed to ensure that we identify and support those children in a timely manner, it has been criticised for its dominant focus on a child’s deficits and delays. In short, SEN only gives us part of the picture yet it can often become a dominant label that negatively shapes and shifts their experiences. This has to change if we are dedicated to improving children’s physical, social, emotional, cognitive and academic outcomes.

The aims of this booklet are to:

  • introduce the concept of neurodiversity in an accessible way
  • consider how ableism is a barrier to inclusion
  • explore neurodivergent profiles of development
  • develop practical approaches in becoming neurodiversity-informed within our early years practice.
A guide to neurodiversity in the early years

Neurodiversity offers us an opportunity to expand our thinking about development and to embrace the fact that we are all different, and in different ways. Once we begin to do this, only then can we change the landscape of inclusion in the early years.

A guide to neurodiversity in the early years

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