Education Access: We’ve Turned Classrooms Into a Hell for Neurodivergence

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A parent and young child stand facing a set of school doors, both displaying clear anxiety

We have autistic children who need us to support them as architects of their own liberation against the schools and clinicians and institutions and police and prosecutors who would crush and destroy them.

AUTISTIC HOYA: THE NEURODIVERSITY MOVEMENTS NEEDS ITS SHOES OFF, AND FISTS UP.

As we view from behind, a parent and child look at a large set of school doors, both appearing uncertain and anxious.

The picture shows a school classroom as I see it, as an autistic person.  A kaleidoscope of shape and blinding lighting, with vague outlines which are probably other students.  Deafening noise.  The stench of different smells.  The confusion of many voices, including some heard through walls from neighbouring halls and classes.  School uniform that feels like barbed wire on my skin.

In the chaos, a different voice which I have to try to listen to.  It’s so hard.  My brain doesn’t want to tune the rest of the noise out.  Apparently I’ve been asked something, but I miss it.  The voice gets more strident, the class turns to look at me.  The intense stares overwhelm me.  The person next to me jostles me and it feels like an electric shock on my skin.  Only six more hours of hell to go…. only six….

Some of our autistic pupils simply cannot do this alone, without ‘time out’ to recover from the pain and exhaustion during the school day.  Not for hour after hour of puzzling painful chaos.

Ann’s Autism Blog: Autism, School, Exclusion. What’s fair?
Classroom seen as a mass of confusing colors and shapes
School classroom seen as a blurry mass of colors and shapes, showing what some pupils see

Image Credit: Ann Memmott

Enter many SpEd classrooms, and you’ll see little awareness of neurodiversity and the social model of disability. Students with conflicting sensory needs and accommodations are squished together with no access to cave, campfire, or watering hole zones. This sensory environment feeds the overwhelm -> meltdown -> burnout cycle. Feedback loops cascade. “Mind blindneurotypical adults call across the room, feeding the overwhelm. They ratchet compliance, feeding the overwhelm. They treat meltdowns as attention-seeking “fits”, feeding the overwhelm. They not only fail to presume competence, they speak about kids as if they aren’t even there, feeding the overwhelm. The familiar yet wrong things are done.

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

What  schools need to do is to understand autism.  In understanding it, we can help to stop putting the children in pain and exhaustion.  It’s actually quite easy.  And quite cheap.

Make sure your school is getting really good autism training, from autistic experts and our allies.

Make sure the school are getting really good consultancy advice about children, way before any crisis, from autistic consultants and allies.

 Notice I said ‘autistic experts’ and ‘autistic consultants’.  People who can detect what’s happening in that environment, using similar sensory systems to the pupil.  People who can explain autistic language and culture.  Yes, there is a different autistic language, a different autistic culture.  In the same way as it’s important to respect the culture of children from different ethnicities, it’s important to know about, and respect, autistic culture and communication style also.

Ann’s Autism Blog: Autism, School, Exclusion. What’s fair?

The term ‘school refusal’ is linguistically weaponised; it implies intent and choice. It swiftly and subtly frames the child as having taken an active, conscious decision to reject school. This misnomer apportions blame and responsibility to the young person while simultaneously diminishing their genuine distress.

So, with refusal emphatically ruled out, what, then, should we call this? ‘Anxiety-based inability to attend school’ is nowhere near as snappy, even though this is much more accurate, and I have insisted on it being written in some of our daughter’s key documents. Much less clunky and equally accurate is ‘school-induced anxiety’, which has gained traction on social media in recent years and is the preference of most young people and their families. Importantly, ‘school-induced anxiety’ shifts the cause of the anxiety to the setting and removes the notion of fault from the young person.

My daughter – one of thousands struggling with school-induced anxiety – has lost half of her precious childhood to experiencing acute and sustained fear on a daily basis and viewing herself as a failure.

Mental Health and Attendance at School

We need to understand autism and change the circumstances.

In fact, for Liasidou (2012, p.5), the concept of inclusive education, if it is to be meaningful, is necessarily founded on the social model, as it ‘refers to the restructuring of social and, by implication, educational settings in order to meet the needs of all learners irrespective of their diverse biographical, developmental and learning trajectories’. Within this framework, we are not expecting autistic children to change their very being or nature, but are aiming instead to ensure that the buildings, curriculum, classroom layout and teaching styles will be able to accommodate them. Therefore, this issue runs deeper than, say, providing a sensory room or differentiated learning materials, but impacts on all aspects of how an autistic child is perceived, addressed and supported. This approach can be facilitated through ‘universal design’ (Liasidou 2012; Woronko and Killoran 2011), where every aspect of educational provision is planned from scratch to accommodate a diversity of learners. In this way, certain children are not identified as needing adjustments or adaptations, but the core design of the curriculum, classroom layout and buildings means that all learners are more naturally accommodated – idealistic, perhaps, but surely worth a try.

Inclusive Education for Autistic Children (pp. 38-39)

Autistic ways of being are human neurological variants that can not be understood without the social model of disability.

A COMMUNAL DEFINITION OF AUTISTIC WAYS OF BEING

Terzi (2005, p.446), for example, is of the view that the medical model as played out in educational environments results in ‘perspectives emphasising individual limitations’ rather than the ways in which the organisation and design of schools might create those very difficulties in the first instance.

Inclusive Education for Autistic Children

At one meeting I attended, one father told us how his eight-year-old son had been declared ineducable, and they had been told that he would have to spend his childhood at a psychiatric day hospital rather than at school. Another told of how his teenage son had hardly left his bedroom for two years, completely refusing to go to school, and had tried to kill himself. One mother told of how her daughter fought each morning not to go to school, scratching and biting them, for over a year.

These children are now members of the self-directed learning community, engaged in a wide range of activities. They are still the same people as before, with the same characteristics, but the pressure has been lifted and so they are able to flourish. Many of these children will have diagnoses. Home-educating parents tell similar stories – children whose behaviour at school was uncontrollable who start to behave differently ethey are allowed to follow their interests and are treated with respect.

Changing Our Minds: How children can take control of their own learning

Something happens when children are in an environment in which they are valued and accepted for who they are. They see themselves as capable and as contributors to their community, and they develop and learn. That’s why the respectful and non-judgemental way that adults relate to children in self-directed environments is important. It doesn’t happen overnight. When you’ve spend years fighting a system, you can’t just forget all the strategies you learnt to survive.

These children are experiencing the shift from a system which sees their personalities as a problem, to one which genuinely accommodates difference. Because when children are really allowed to choose what they do, difference stops being such a problem.

Viewed through the lens of disorder, disruptive behaviour is a symptom. Viewed from a different perspective, it’s a sign that something isn’t right in the world around the child. It’s those children who are considered to be troublemakers, the ‘problem children’, who shine a light into corners which the rest of us might prefer to avoid.

Changing Our Minds: How children can take control of their own learning

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.

THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: ON HANS ASPERGER, THE NAZIS, AND AUTISM: A CONVERSATION ACROSS NEUROLOGIES
Home » Enable Dignity: Accessible Systems, Spaces, & Events » Education Access: We’ve Turned Classrooms Into a Hell for Neurodivergence
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
This construct
Was built and can be dismantled

We stand together
We think apart
We stand together
We think apart

-- Neurodivergent by Rabbit Junk

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

Content Note: behaviorism, ABA, PBS/PBIS, ableism, mental health, meltdowns, shutdowns, punishment, suicide

Helpful Context: Our Learning page and Access page are helpful context to this page.

Thorndike won, and Dewey lost. I don’t think you can understand the history of education technology without realizing this either. And I’d propose an addendum to this too: you cannot understand the history of education technology in the United States during the twentieth century – and on into the twenty-first – unless you realize that Seymour Papert lost and B. F. Skinner won.

B. F. Skinner: The Most Important Theorist of the 21st Century
There are so many challenges that I am facing

School, I hate it
School, let's face it
I deal with bullies on an everyday basis
School is the reason I have depression, it has failed me all my life
School makes me feel inadequate and dead inside

Please stop the bullying
Stop punishing me
Stop putting me down
I’m trying my best can’t you see
School makes me not want to be here anymore
I'm told I have to go but what the heck for
I'd rather be dead than go to school
I want a space where we feel safe and at home
A chance to be united and not struggling on our own
A place where people understand and are like me
Where I can be bold and free

--I asked 50 autistic children what life is like and made a rap with their responses

That is great content on the Ed access page!
very colorful reminder of the sensory nightmare that was high school for me.
I had to drop out after all.
then I got chspe, California version of a diploma originally for military children

Feedback on this page from a community member

Sensory Overwhelm and Meltdowns

We’ve turned classrooms into a hell for autism. Fluorescent lighting. Endless noise. Everywhere, bright patterns and overloading information. Groupwork and social time. Crowded hallways and relentless academic pressure. Autistic children mostly could cope in the quieter schools of decades ago. Not a hope now.

We cannot simply exclude autistic pupils for entering meltdowns. Meltdowns are part of autism for a good number of autistic young people.

Whilst mindful that of course everyone needs to be safe, the way to achieve safety is to stop hurting the autistic children. Punishing them for responding to pain is not something any of us need to do.

Ann’s Autism Blog: Autism, School, Exclusion. What’s fair?

The most important thing to understand about autism in shared space is sensory overwhelm. Education, in our experiences as Neurodivergent students and parents, doesn’t, not in any practical, respectful, first-person way.

Sensory overwhelm is a marquee feature of my life. Autistic perception can be a high fidelity flood in an intense world. “Autistic perception is the direct perception of the forming of experience. This has effects: activities which require parsing (crossing the street, finding the path in the forest) can be much more difficult. But there is no question that autistic perception experiences richness in a way the more neurotypically inclined perception rarely does.

We’re Autistic. Here’s what we’d like you to know.

Prolonged sensory overwhelm can lead to meltdown. A meltdown is not a tantrum. It is not attention-seeking. It is a response to overwhelm, anxiety, and stress. If I meltdown, the best thing you can do is be present, patient, calm, quiet, and compassionate. Meltdowns are tidal waves of sensory overwhelm. Try not to add to the overwhelm.

We’re Autistic. Here’s what we’d like you to know.

One of the more encouraging developments in the autism field over the last decade or so has been a growing awareness of the significance of sensory issues. Sensory sensitivities are included in the DSM-5 as part part of the diagnostic criteria for autism, and in teacher training materials, such as those provided by the AET. They are also highlighted in campaigns by the National Autistic Society (NAS), for example. But despite these signs of increased understanding, I’m not convinced that in our schools there is a sufficiently nuanced appreciation of this multi-faceted phenomenon, which potentially influences a whole range of physical and perceptual processes (Bogdashina 2016). Indeed, the school environment can present autistic children with a multi-sensory onslaught in terms of sounds, smells, textures and visual impacts that constitutes both a distraction and a source of discomfort (Ashburner, Ziviani and Rodger 2008; Caldwell 2008). There was also clear evidence from my own study that sensory issues, and noise in particular, can be highly exclusionary factors for autistic children in schools.

Inclusive Education for Autistic Children: Helping Children and Young People to Learn and Flourish in the Classroom
Everyone looks very strange today
All of their faces seem to be washed away
Everyone's talking, I can't hear a thing
I'm on the moon, why is the sky so green

I think I'm walking up the stairs
While I'm sitting right down in my chair
I feel so light, but I'm not
Everything is gonna go when it's hot

Or am I
Freakin out, freakin out, freakin out
Freakin out, freakin out, freakin out
Freakin out, freakin out, freakin out
Freakin out, freakin out, freakin out

Or are you freakin out

--Freakin' Out by Death

Stop freakin’ us out.

But I’m tortured because whilst I don’t want to make a scene or have strangers adding to the overload and overwhelm, I’m simultaneously desperate for someone to give me a massive, firm, bear-hug. To hide me, cocoon me, and shield me from the shock waves that travel from their universe into mine.


On meltdowns

The Bipartisanship of Behaviorism

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

This “science-driven” mantra has been seen before through eugenics.

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

Behaviorism is dead.

Despite that,

Behaviorism won.

And neurodivergent and disabled students lost.

Behaviorism is everywhere. The All Means All of public education is made meaningless by the bipartisanship of behaviorism.

There’s just one problem with Lakoff’s theory. An awful lot of people who are politically liberal begin to sound like right-wing talk-show hosts as soon as the conversation turns to children and parenting. It was this curious discrepancy, in fact, that inspired the book you are now reading.

I first noticed an inconsistency of this kind in the context of education. Have a look at the unsigned editorials in left-of-center newspapers, or essays by columnists whose politics are mostly progressive. Listen to speeches by liberal public officials. On any of the controversial issues of our day, from tax policy to civil rights, you’ll find approximately what you’d expect. But when it comes to education, almost all of them take a hard-line position very much like what we hear from conservatives. They endorse a top-down, corporate-style version of school reform that includes prescriptive, one-size-fits-all teaching standards and curriculum mandates; weakened job protection for teachers; frequent standardized testing; and a reliance on rewards and punishments to raise scores on those tests and compel compliance on the part of teachers and students.

The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting
The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting

Mooney notes that “No Child Left Behind was perhaps the most damaging form of public policy as it pertained to public education and learning diversity that has happened in our history of education policy, and that was a bill that was sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy. It was a set of practices that was doubled down upon by the Obama administration.”

Normal Sucks: Author Jonathan Mooney on How Schools Fail Kids with Learning Differences

The neurodiversity and disability rights movements well-understand the ubiquity of behaviorism, and its tremendous costs.

Behaviorist education is ableist education.

The techniques of Uncommon Schools and Teach Like a Champion are heavily based off the work of radical behaviorism founder, B.F. Skinner. Most well known for the “Skinner Box”, a lever that animals would pull to be positively rewarded for simple tasks, Skinner spent much of his life devoted to creating a school system which was entirely rote. Vocal TLAC advocates connect his philosophy to much of what they do, and some followers even make more, bluntly dehumanizing, connections

Skinner firmly believed that a society entirely based on positive reinforcement and rote tasks would lead to a utopian life, free of politics. He literally wrote a utopian sci-fi book on it, Walden Two. As Audrey Watters expertly chronicles in Teaching Machines: The History of Personalized Learning, Skinner is a fan favorite of ed-tech companies and school reformers working to make school more “productive.”

Of course, this is the obvious truth that underlies the whole movement toward behaviorism: it is political. In a masquerade to create a pedagogy that is entirely objective, the “objectiveness” of it is entirely inequitable. In the same way that remaining neutral is a political act, remaining neutral and objective toward rote teaching materials is a political act.

Empty Pedagogy, Behaviorism, and the Rejection of Equity

When your kid is DXed as autistic, almost all of the professional advice you get from education and healthcare is steeped in deficit ideology and the pathology paradigm.

The message to parents of the neurodiverse kid is that their child is deficient, and that their job is to fix their child. We are in a sort of remediation industrial complex, where there’s all sorts of services and treatments and interventions to make the square peg fit the round hole. Parents are relentlessly told that that’s their job.

Normal Sucks: Author Jonathan Mooney on How Schools Fail Kids with Learning Differences

The unhealthiness, unhelpfulness, and disconnectedness of this worldview leads some to consult autistic adults. Then, you discover neurodiversity and the social model of disability. And then, maybe, intersectionality, design for real life, and equity literate education. And then you find yourself in the healthier framing of structural ideology that is better for your kid and better for the systems and institutions that you’re now trying to improve.

Fix Injustice, Not Kids

BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR EQUITY LITERACY

Reframe.

Stimpunks Foundation exists because of a bipartisan embrace of “Empty Pedagogy, Behaviorism, and the Rejection of Equity”. Reframing away from behaviorism is urgently needed and essential.

We Reframe

We reframe out of the confines of the medical model and pathology paradigm and into the respectfully connected expanse of the biopsychosocial model and the Neurodiversity paradigm. We reframe from deficit ideology to structural ideology.

WE, STIMPUNKS

Behaviorism: Measuring the Surface, Badly

Ultimately behaviorism provides a simplistic lens that can’t see beyond itself.

Why is the doctrine of behaviorism still being used, at all?

How can ABA be the gold-standard for autism when it ignores everything we know about autism?

Behaviorism Is Dead. How Do We Tell the (Autism) Parents? » Neuroclastic

Behaviorism only looks at observable behavior which can be measured. It doesn’t take into account thoughts, genetics, anxiety, trauma, health, or emotions because those things cannot be measured. 

Not an Autism Mom’s Thoughts on ABA: Part One » NeuroClastic

ABA and behaviorism pointedly don’t understand sensory overload, or anything else about autism.

Plenty of policies and programs limit our ability to do right by children. But perhaps the most restrictive virtual straitjacket that educators face is behaviorism – a psychological theory that would have us focus exclusively on what can be seen and measured, that ignores or dismisses inner experience and reduces wholes to parts. It also suggests that everything people do can be explained as a quest for reinforcement – and, by implication, that we can control others by rewarding them selectively.

Allow me, then, to propose this rule of thumb: The value of any book, article, or presentation intended for teachers (or parents) is inversely related to the number of times the word “behavior” appears in it. The more our attention is fixed on the surface, the more we slight students’ underlying motives, values, and needs.

It’s been decades since academic psychology took seriously the orthodox behaviorism of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner, which by now has shrunk to a cult-like clan of “behavior analysts.” But, alas, its reductionist influence lives on – in classroom (and schoolwide) management programs like PBIS and Class Dojo, in scripted curricula and the reduction of children’s learning to “data,” in grades and rubrics, in “competency”- and “proficiency”-based approaches to instruction, in standardized assessments, in reading incentives and merit pay for teachers.

It’s time we outgrew this limited and limiting psychological theory. That means attending less to students’ behaviors and more to the students themselves.

Source: It’s Not About Behavior – Alfie Kohn

We navigate systems stacked against us to get access to what amounts to dog trainingthat dog trainers know better than to use—and a segregated “special” track that pathologically pathologizes difference and fails to connect with the communities it helps marginalize.

While parents whose children have received ABA sing its praises and describe it as the therapy that saved their child, the adult autistic community seems to feel differently.

I discovered that autistic adults consider it abusive, and many who were subjected to it as children claim to have been emotionally damaged.

Some preliminary studies even suggest that adults who received ABA as children are at an increased risk of suicide and PTSD.

And quite commonly on Twitter, I’ve seen people call ABA “dog training for children.”

When I see that, I tend to go on Twitter rants in reply to it, because from everything I have read and seen of ABA, it is NOT “dog training” for children.

…I would never treat a dog that way.

Is ABA Really “Dog Training for Children”? A Professional Dog Trainer Weighs In. » NeuroClastic

The specialists that serve this “special” track aren’t so much specialized in the lives and needs of neurodivergent and disabled people (managing sensory overwhelm, avoiding meltdown and burnout, dealing with ableism, connecting with online communities, developing agency and voice through self-advocacy) as they are specialized in deficit and medical models that pathologize difference and identity. Such framing is too limited to see us.

Pretty much everything an autistic child does, says, doesn’t do or doesn’t say is pathologised and made into a way to invent a ‘therapy’ for it.

It’s actually hell to experience.

We should stop doing this and start learning about autism.

Ann Memmott PGC

We have essentially error focused expertise-professionals implementing deficit models. The ‘manufactured ignorance’ prevalent around deficit pathology models is doubling down on the harm to us neurodivergent people. It’s a form of intentional intergenerational trauma.

Assuming for the sake of argument that ABA is effective at changing people’s behavior, it either does so via changing their underlying thought structures or values (“deep change”), or it does not (“superficial change”). If ABA is “successful” by way of deep change, then ABA violates autonomy insofar as it coercively closes off certain paths of identity formation. If ABA is “successful” by way of superficial change, then ABA violates autonomy by coercively modifying children’s patterns of behavior to be misaligned with their preferences, passions, and pursuits. Such superficial change is a pervasive form of interference that compromises children’s present and future autonomy.

Project MUSE – Ethical Concerns with Applied Behavior Analysis for Autism Spectrum “Disorder”

The underpinnings of that ideology include: a focus only on observable behaviors that can be quantified, a reduction of wholes to parts, the assumption that everything people do can be explained as a quest for reinforcement, and the creation of methods for selectively reinforcing whichever behaviors are preferred by the person with the power. Behaviorists ignore, or actively dismiss, subjective experience – the perceptions, needs, values, and complex motives of the human beings who engage in behaviors.

The late Herb Lovett used to say that there are only two problems with “special education” in America: It’s not special and it sure as hell isn’t education. The field continues to be marinated in behaviorist assumptions and practices despite the fact that numerous resources for teachers, therapists, and parents offer alternatives to behavior control. These alternatives are based on a commitment to care and to understand. By “care,” I mean that our relationship with the child is what matters most. He or she is not a passive object to be manipulated but a subject, a center of experience, a person with agency, with needs and rights. And by “understand,” I mean that we have an obligation to look beneath the behavior, in part by imaginatively trying to adopt that person’s point of view, attempting to understand the whys rather than just tabulating the frequency of the whats. As Norm Kunc and Emma Van der Klift urged us in their Credo for Support: “Be still and listen. What you define as inappropriate may be my attempt to communicate with you in the only way I can….[or] the only way I can exert some control over my life….Do not work on me. Work with me.”

Autism and Behaviorism – Alfie Kohn

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. 

Autism and Behaviorism – Alfie Kohn

PBIS.org focuses only on surface behavior, what one can observe. Whether this is due to lack of understanding of the complexity or an intentional omission is unknown. The focus on surface behavior, without seeming to understand or be concerned about the complexity, or even the simple dichotomy of volitional versus autonomic (stress response) and the use of outdated, compliance based, animal based behaviorism (which has no record of long term benefits) continues to fail our country’s students.

The documents on PBIS.org imply that all behavior is willful. There is no acknowledgement in the PBIS.org literature that behaviors can be stress responses (fight-flight-freeze responses). This is a profound omission that does great harm to children whose brains and bodies have highly sensitive neuroceptionof danger. To be punished for a stress response is harmful and traumatic.

The second concern about teaching replacement behaviors goes back to the lack of distinction between willful behaviors and stress behaviors. Teaching replacement behaviors is not possible for stress responses since they are automatic responses that occur beneath the level of conscious thought.

Source: The problem with behaviorism – Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint

But the enduring lesson for educators isn’t just that “positive reinforcement” turns out to be anything but positive. It also concerns the conceptual dead-end of behaviorism more generally. Every day, and with every child, we need to keep in mind that behaviors are just the protruding tip of the proverbial iceberg. What matters more than “What?” or “How much?” is “How come?”

It’s Not About Behavior – Alfie Kohn

My experience with special education and ABA demonstrates how the dichotomy of interventions that are designed to optimize the quality of life for individuals on the spectrum can also adversely impact their mental health, and also their self-acceptance of an autistic identity. This is why so many autistic self-advocates are concerned about behavioral modification programs: because of the long-term effects they can have on autistic people’s mental health. This is why we need to preach autism acceptance, and center self advocates in developing appropriate supports for autistic people. That means we need to take autistic people’s insights, feelings, and desires into account, instead of dismissing them.

Mental Health and Autism: Why Acceptance Matters — THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM

Autistic Burnout

After sensory overwhelm, the next most important thing to understand about autism in the classroom is autistic burnout. Many autistic people have identified their first burnouts at around age 6, because school is shattering. Autistic burnout is unknown in the deficit and medical models. To hear about it, you have to go to #ActuallyAutistic people. We live this.

It was 1977 and nobody knew that the whole, horrible scene could have been avoided, all the accusations and recrimination been unnecessary if they’d known what we know now. I was just an inquisitive autistic boy who’d been told off for knowing more than the teacher had bargained for, hadn’t understood what I’d done wrong, and been pushed to a meltdown that could have been easily avoided.

Now it’s 2021. Let’s hope we know better now.

If you saw someone going through Autistic Burnout would you be able to recognise it? Would you even know what it means? Would you know what it meant for yourself if you are an Autistic person? The sad truth is that so many Autistic people, children and adults, go through this with zero comprehension of what is happening to them and with zero support from their friends and families.

If you’re a parent reading this, I can confidently say that I bet that no Professional, from diagnosis, through any support services you’re lucky enough to have been given, will have mentioned Autistic Burnout or explained what it is. If you’re an Autistic person, nobody will have told you about it either, unless you’ve engaged with the Autistic community.

Autistic Burnout is an integral part of the life of an Autistic person that affects us pretty much from the moment we’re born to the day we die, yet nobody, apart from Autistic people really seem to know about it…

Source: An Autistic Burnout – The Autistic Advocate

The reality is, in fact, several hours (including hours which should be for sleeping) of a terrified, ashen, exhausted young person, hiding, fighting or immobile, sobbing, distraught and pleading that they cannot go to school. Flooded with stress hormones, unable to ‘escape’ and with the threat of school remaining ever present, it is not unusual for these children to be so spent that they have fallen asleep as their bodies try to recover before their peers have even sat down for registration.

Yet none of this was overtly visible at school, where she was using all her effort to mask her difficulties and fear, bottling it up until she walked out of the school building and beginning her descent into collapse. Every single day. By Year 2, she was regularly unable to even make it out of the playground at home time before the sheer exertions of her day would tip her into meltdown. But as all of these more problematic, and clearly distressed, behaviours were largely happening at home, we were informed regularly that she was ‘fine in school’.

Mental Health and Attendance at School

Autistic Adults and Autistic Community

I know these things—and so many more—because I have found autistic community and the knowledge and support that come with it—and this makes me less alone.

Sincerely, Your Autistic Child: What People on the Autism Spectrum Wish Their Parents Knew About Growing Up, Acceptance, and Identity

So heartbreakingly many educators can’t bring themselves to use our language or educate parents about our existence.

After autistic students age out of our care, we erase them again as adults. Instead, you should be listening to us.

More children than ever before are being diagnosed with autism. But what about the adults? Some of these individuals have never been diagnosed but have always known they were a bit “different.” Others were diagnosed but did not have the same degree of societal acceptance or the same number of resources available to help them cope with a neurotypical world.

Now this group of adults is the demographic that best understands what people with autism need, whether or not they know how to articulate it in a way the rest of society is able to grasp. But what these men and women have to say about autism is important. These people need to be heard!

The video below encourages adults with autism to get involved in the discussion and asks others to be cognizant of the needs of people with autism and invite them into the conversation. The neurotypical community needs adults with autism to lend their voices and experiences to help make the future brighter for the next generation!

Check out this powerful video!

This Video Demonstrates What It’s Like to Be an Autistic Adult Who Isn’t Being Heard | The Autism Site Blog

understanding the perspectives and experiences of autistic children and adults in particular was essential. Time and again I found that issues aired say, by teachers, would be completely reframed when the autistic adults discussed the same points.

Inclusive Education for Autistic Children: Helping Children and Young People to Learn and Flourish in the Classroom

Being an autistic parent of an autistic child means navigating a world that doesn’t see us as whole while advocating for two people at the same time. Specialists don’t take autistic parents seriously, don’t trust that we know our own needs, let alone a child’s. How can we when we’re in need of special services and accommodations, too?

Catapult | Catapult | The Greatest Challenge of Raising an Autistic Child as an Autistic Parent? The Ableist World We Live In | Lu Everman

There is no greater resource for neurotypical parents of Autistic children than the members of their own community. When parents come to me terrified, convinced there is no viable future for their precious children, this is where I send them: to those who not only wait to welcome our children with open arms, but who so willingly guide us as we make our way along this winding, rocky, beautiful path together. They know, like no one else possibly can, of what they speak.

Sincerely, Your Autistic Child: What People on the Autism Spectrum Wish Their Parents Knew About Growing Up, Acceptance, and Identity

We Don’t Need Your Mindset Marketing: Education Technology and the New Behaviorism

The irony of turning schools into therapeutic institutions when they generate so much stress and anxiety seems lost on policy-makers who express concern about children’s mental health.

ClassDojo app takes mindfulness to scale in public education | code acts in education

The marketing of mindsets is everywhereFast psycho-policy & the datafication of social-emotional learning dominate ed-tech. Grit, growth mindset, project-based mindset, entrepreneurial mindset, innovator’s mindset, pirate mindset and a raft of canned social-emotional skills programs are vying for public money. These notions are quickly productized, jumping straight from psychology departments to aphoristic word images shared on social media and marketing festooned on school walls.

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