DIY at the Edges: Surviving the Bipartisanship of Behaviorism by Rolling Our Own

Ear readers, press play to listen to this page in the selected language.
Pigeons in a wire cage with one pigeon directly facing the camera through the wire
Pigeons in a wire cage with one pigeon directly facing the camera through the wire

Start Here

Home » Courses » DIY at the Edges: Surviving the Bipartisanship of Behaviorism by Rolling Our Own

DIY at the Edges: Surviving the Bipartisanship of Behaviorism by Rolling Our Own

Hosted by Ryan Boren, Inna Boren, Kristina Daniele & Chelsea Adams of Stimpunks. Stimpunks combine “stimming” with “punks” to advocate for neurodiversity and push back against systems that restrict our humanity and harm our unique identities.

The Premise

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

This course fights against behaviorist practices in the classroom.

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.


Navigating the Course

The Table of Contents below is provided for two reasons:

  1. to outline the content provided by our Stimpunk Learners, and
  2. to offer a suggested course flow.

While this is the suggested order of the course, you are free to work through it in the order you choose and at your own pace.

Course Structure

  • Lesson Themes – focus themes for each section to guide understanding.
  • Lesson Table of Contents – navigation and selected order of the lesson.
  • Purpose – contains the goal of the information provided in the lesson.
  • Introduction – We try to ease you into the lesson with background information and our thoughts (or quote(s)) on the topic.
  • Reading – Select links directing you to important readings, videos, and other research supporting the call to actions and deconstruction of exclusionary practices in education.
  • Activities – a combination of activities to help you process the information. presented.
  • Reflection Activity– These quotes, articles, journal prompts direct you to being intentional in your advocacy by providing further support of the ideas presented in the lesson.
  • Take It further – The offerings here encourage you to dig deeper.
  • Resources – Anything we want to share but could not fit in the previous sections.

Course Purpose

Behaviorism is dead.

The Stimpunks Foundation

We exist because of a bipartisan embrace of “Empty Pedagogy, Behaviorism, and the Rejection of Equity”. Reframing away from behaviorism is urgently needed and essential. As such, we aim to:

  1. introduce you to real accounts and understandings of the effects of behaviorism on students and education;
  2. offer insight into the various ways we can eliminate dehumanizing practices from schools;
  3. provide examples and, in some cases, reasonings behind the tools we use and have created to support neurodiversity;
  4. connect the DIY method of education to the Punk Movement and explore why it is important.

A moment of appreciation:

Our learners spent months working on this website in preparation for the Conference to Restore Humanity. This course and our website was developed with and for the conference. Our preparation for the conference was a continuous act of dogfooding our tools and philosophy.

Course Primer

Behaviorism can’t die.

It doesn’t matter how often it’s refuted and how fully it’s refuted, it comes right back to life.

It’s been refuted so overwhelmingly.

Noam Chomsky on Behaviorism

What does this mean?

Again, behaviorism is everywhere, deeply-rooted into our political, educational, and parental expectations. While the institutionalization of education seems to be the goal of conservatives, mass assimilation of students- the goal of public education- is heavily supported by so-called liberal politicians who decry exclusionary practices publicly but fail to connect the dots to education.

Authors Alfie Kohn and Jonathan Mooney dig deeper into the issues facing neurodivergent students when met with the conservative political stances from various political parties. Between those stances, and the policies like “No Child Left Behind,” neurodivergent students have suffered. While we recommend the books as they are invaluable resources, we’ve included a few quotes that highlight this collaboration by both political parties.

Notable Quote(s) from Alfie Kohn’s “The Myth of the Spoiled Child”

Alfie Kohn on the politics of education and child-rearing:

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
Alfie Kohn on the culture war of childrearing:

This widespread adoption of a traditionalist perspective helps us to make sense of the fact that, on topics related to children, even liberals tend to hold positions whose premises are deeply conservative. Perhaps it works the other way around as well: The fact that people on the left and center find themselves largely in agreement with those on the right explains how the traditionalist viewpoint has become the conventional wisdom. Child rearing might be described as a hidden front in the culture wars, except that no one is fighting on the other side.

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

Notable Quote(s) from Jonathan Mooney’s “Normal Sucks”

Jonathan Mooney on the problem with “No Child Left Behind”:

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

Understanding Behaviorism: B.F Skinner’s Pigeon Box

“Once we have arranged the particular type of consequence called a reinforcement,“ Skinner wrote in ”The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching“ (1954), ”our techniques permit us to shape the behavior of an organism almost at will. It has become a routine exercise to demonstrate this in classes in elementary psychology by conditioning such an organism as a pigeon.”

…Such an organism as a pigeon.” We often speak of “lab rats” as shorthand for the animals used in scientific experiments. We use the phrase too to describe people who work in labs, who are completely absorbed in performing their tasks again and again and again. 

In education and in education technology, students are also the subjects of experimentation and conditioning. But in Skinner’s framework, they are not rats; they are pigeons.

The Pigeons of Ed-Tech

The pigeon. The object of technological experimentation, manipulation, and control, weaponized. 

The pigeon. The child. The object of ed-tech.

The pigeon. The history of the future of education technology.

The Pigeons of Ed-Tech

All these elements were part of Skinner’s teaching machines: the elimination of inefficiencies of the teacher, the delivery of immediate feedback, the ability for students to move through standardized content at their own pace.

Today’s ed-tech proponents call this “personalization.”

The Monsters of Education Technology

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

Behaviorist education is ableist education.

And this is why we DIY!

Our journey over the past 15 years has involved us navigating increasingly ableist, behaviorist, and underfunded systems while contributing to the Neurodiversity movement and building community compatible with us.

People with disabilities are the original life hackers because our motivation is so high. If we don’t hack we often go without.

Liz Jackson: Designing for Inclusivity – 99U

We rolled our own education, because we had too. We built something compatible with neurodiversity and the social model of disability using the tools of distributed work and indie ed-tech.

Reflection Activity

Ed-tech has always been more Thorndike than Dewey because education has been more Thorndike than Dewey. That means more instructivism than constructionism. That means more multiple choice tests than projects. That means more surveillance than justice.

(How Thorndike’s ed-tech is now being rebranded as “personalization” (and by extension, as progressive education) – now that’s an interesting story…

The History of Ed-Tech: What Went Wrong?

Creating inclusive learning environments requires differentiated instruction. In what ways do you, can you, or will you create a more constructionist environment for your students?

Take it further

Texas has multiple waiting lists for different types of care, including six for Medicaid waiver programs — which use state and federal funds to get people care in the community instead of in an institution — and one for safety net services provided locally. As of March, nearly 170,000 people were waiting for care through a Medicaid waiver program — a 115 percent increase since 2010. State data shows that some residents have been waiting for nearly 20 years to receive help.

Nearly 200K disabled Texans are waiting for help, some for a decade

We are marginalized canaries, Autistic man Freestone Wilson suggested in the 1990s that autistic people are functioning as the “miners’ canaries” of civilisation. When the air in the mine is poisoned we do not… More 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.

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.


Disability systems rely on artificial economies of scarcity. Programs are underfunded, so caregivers, teachers, social workers, and disabled people themselves are all pushed to project their needs as necessary and virtuous.


The most important message I got from punk, was the DIY ethos. The DIY ethic. It’s inherently part of surviving.

Don Letts, SHOWstudio: Stussy – Talking Punk with Don Letts and John Ingham


How Texas keeps tens of thousands of children out of special education

Denied – Houston Chronicle

Edward L. Thorndike won and John Dewey lost.

An Elusive Science: The Troubling History of Education Research

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

Ongoing Activities

Collaborative Notetaking

As you read through our track, we encourage you to add anything that stands out to you, for any reason, to our Commonplace Notebook.

Sharing thoughts in a collaborative, safe space, and doing so at your own pace is one way to offer low-stakes activities to your students.

Developing Your Personal Creed

Your personal creed is a set of beliefs and values that drive your actions and choices. We believe having one is important. As you go through the informations in our track and/or any others, keep a list of the ideas and thoughts sparked by the course. We’ll ask you to share you personal creeds on the last day of the conference.

DIY At The Edges – The Collaborative Soundtrack

DIY at the Edges: a collaborative playlist. Artwork by itsyagerg_zero, a Black, Queer, Neurodivergent, homescholed, Stimpunk Teen.

Day 1

Written Communication and Indie Ed-Tech: Neurodivergents Created This Communication Environment

Themes: Teams, Technology, and Help

Now we have the opportunity and understanding to move from emergency pandemic remote school and its pantomime of learning to purposefully designed online education spaces that are accessible, sustainable, and representative of the communities they serve. It’s time for the academic conference model to respond accordingly.

Conference to Restore Humanity: The Need


Most conferences do not include us Stimpunks as either presenters or attendees. Conferences are sensory and social overwhelm, and speaking in front of an audience is very stressful due to Exposure Anxiety, Situational Mutism, and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. Conference to Restore Humanity is a wonderful exception because it embraces a communication environment created by neurodivergent people. Let’s use day 1 to appreciate this communication environment and what it can achieve.


Communication in all forms is necessary and yet the tools to enable all people to do so in a way that allows them to feel seen and heard. To this end, many neurodivergent people have had to find other ways to add our voices to the conversation. In this track we will look at how written communication, technology, and collaborative spaces facilitate our communication and connections with others.


► Main Takeaways
  • Technology, Text, and Alternative Socialization
  • Backchannels
  • Online Communication and Autistic Community
  • Anything but the Phone!
  • Writing is the path to power for those born without power.
  • The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface
  • Text Augments All Other Media
  • A Workflow-Focused Approach to Writing Offers a Pathway to Agency, Creativity, and Confidence
  • Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.
  • Typed Words, Loud Voices
  • Let’s Augment Everybody, Let’s Leave No Mind Behind
  • Bring the Backchannel Forward

We choose open source tools built by and for communities. These communities have decades of iterative experience in bringing safety to the serendipity. #DIYEdge #Stimpunks #RollinOnOurOwn

► Main Takeaways
  • Our Software
  • Open Source Communication
  • Indie Ed-Tech
  • Blogging, Domain of One’s Own, and WordPress
  • Toolbelt Theory
  • Bring the backchannel forward. Written communication is the great social equalizer.
  • Created Serendipity: Chance Favors the Connected Mind
  • If bell hooks Made an LMS: a Praxis of Liberation and Domain of One’s Own
  • Online Learning in Anti-Ableist Space

We use these tools to bricolage our activist research and research-storytelling.

► Main Takeaways

  • DIY or Die
  • Identity Bricolage
  • Scripts, Commonplaces, Canned Monologues
  • Filling Our Databases With Serendipity
  • Pastiche: Celebrating Our Influences
  • Anti-libraries and Knowledge
  • Everything Is a Remix
  • Bricolage Fuels Constructionism
  • That Could Be Me: Inspiring Constructionism
  • Re-create and Rewrite Ideas
  • Appropriate Space
  • Adapt, Subvert, and Extend
  • Copia Provides a Strategy of Invention
  • Bricolage is a Living Thing

How do we help our students navigate the world of public, digital scholarship in a world increasingly dominated by harassment, abuse, disinformation, and polarization? 
That’s the piece that’s been missing, bringing the safety to the serendipity.

Closing Tabs, Episode 3: Teaching with(out) Social Media – UMW Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies
► Main Takeaways
  • Created Serendipity: Chance Favors the Connected Mind
  • Indie Ed-tech: Rewire and Reshape the World
    • A Domain of Their Own: The Web We Need To Give Students
    • No Student Will Have Mechanical Limitations in Access to Either Information or Communication
    • Punk DIY: Students should have the freedom to explore and experiment with their school-issued devices. 
  •  Teams, Technology, and Help


  • What backchannels exist in your classroom, school, workplace?
  • Communication is oxygen. What communication modalities are on offer?
  • Are you biased toward eye-reading? Does your school conflate eye-reading with intelligence? Use the terms eye-reading, ear-reading, and finger-reading to enumerate and validate different types of reading.
  • Does your classroom, workplace use three speeds of communication?
  • How can we bring safety to the serendipity?

Reflection Activity

What’s in your toolbelt? What tools do you offer your students to facilitate confident and safe communication?

Take It further

Successful human beings, whether they have learning differences or not, mitigate weakness through teams, technology, and help, and they build a life around strengths, gifts, talents, and interests.

What we know about successful human beings is they take an interest and they make it a passion and they take the passion and they make it a sense of purpose and they take the sense of purpose and they build a pathway.

Lab School Lecture Series


Day 2

Reframing Learning: How We Use Caves, Campfires, and Watering Holes to Nurture Intrinsic Motivation, Enter Flow States, and make Rock ’n’ Roll

Themes: Spiky Profiles, Safety, Niche Construction, Constructionism, Intermittent Collaboration, Neurological Pluralism, and Flow

Entering flow states or attention tunnels is a necessary coping strategy for many of us.

Fergus Murray


The front page of our website is all about reframing.

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.


Today, we reframe learning and learners.


Reframe these states of being that have been labelled deficiencies or pathologies as human differences.


Our spiky profiles need anti-ableist space that isn’t designed against us. We need space without behaviorism, segregation, or ableism. We need human-centered space designed to our edges. #DIYEdge #Stimpunks #RollinOnOurOwn


► Main Takeaways
  • Autistic people tend to have ‘spiky skills profiles’.
  • Spiky Profile: a phenomenon whereby the disparity between strengths and weaknesses is more pronounced.
  • The spiky profile may well emerge as the definitive expression of neurominority.
  • Spiky profiles exist for a reason.
  • Disability and difference are engines of innovation, collaboration, and collaborative niche construction.
  • Autistic people have built many niche communities from the ground up.
  • People with disabilities are the original life hackers.
  • Collaborative niche construction allows people to participate in the evolution of a living system.
  • Special interests feed niche construction.
  • Understanding spiky profiles, learning terroir, collaborative niche construction, and special interests is critical to fostering neurological pluralism.
  • Let’s be weird.
  • Let’s be proud of what we are.
  • Difference is a teacher.
► Main Takeaways
  • Monotropic minds tend to have their attention pulled more strongly towards a smaller number of interests at any given time, leaving fewer resources for other processes. 
  • Monotropism provides a far more comprehensive explanation for autistic cognition than any of its competitors.
  • This interest model of mind is ecological, embodied, and exploratory.
  • Monotropism offers a valuable lens for understanding and working with the intense interests of autistic students.
  • Entering flow states – or attention tunnels – is a necessary coping strategy for many of us.
  • Flow states are the pinnacle of intrinsic motivation.
  • Flow allows us to recharge.
  • Embrace the obsession. Special interests are intimately tied to the well-being of autistic peoples.
► Main Takeaways
  • Cavendish Space: psychologically & sensory safe spaces suited to zone work and intermittent collaboration.
  • Inform spaces with neurodiversity and the social model of disability so that they welcome and include all bodyminds.
  • Provide quiet spaces for high memory state zone work where students can escape sensory overwhelm, slip into flow states, and enjoy a maker’s schedule.
  • 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.
  • Make spaces for both collaboration and deep work.
  • The best solutions come from “intermittent collaboration” — group work punctuated by breaks to think & work by ourselves.
  • Design education “to the edges” and take into account the jagged learning profile of all students.
  • Design is tested at the edges. We design for everyone when we design for neurodiversity and disability.
  • Design for our spiky profiles.
  • Edge cases define the boundaries of who and what you care about.
  • Design with, not for.
  • Neurodivergent & disabled students are great flow testers.
  • There are great opportunities for project & passion-based learning in giving students agency to audit their context and design something better.
  • What do kids see? What do they feel? What do they smell? What do they hear? What is their experience as they move through your school?
► What Safe Collaboration Can Do
Neurodiversity rocks! We make rock ‘n’ roll and inclusive education.

Josephmooon is a neurodiverse, multi-age, distributed musical collaboration featuring the work of two teenagers and their mentors. The greater Stimpunks community helps the band with websites, lyrics transcription, art, marketing, e-commerce, fulfillment, tax collection, and everything else that goes into hanging your shingle, running a business, and releasing music on every platform. Stimpunks is rich with learning curves and constructionism.

There is also something uniquely satisfying about working with other people effectively, towards a shared goal; in my experience there is no substitute when it comes to building a community.

Craft, Flow and Cognitive Styles
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

When I get back in tune
My good days will come back, and I’ll feel better
If you’re feeling out of tune like I am now
Get back in tune, like I said

I will get back in tune
But I don’t know when
(hopefully soon)
I know it could take time
But let’s make it happen
I’m back in tune
Back in tune, that’s what I am
Back in tune
In tune, back in tune
“Out of Tune” by Josephmooon

Josephmooon is what you get when you embrace the obsession and go where self-directed learning leads. #DIYEdge #Stimpunks #RollingOnOurOwn

Reflection Activity

Have you ever nurtured a splinter skill?

Does your classroom have spaces for intermittent collaboration?


Appreciate our spiky profiles.

What spiky profiles do you see in your classroom, school, workplace, family? Use our Autism and Kinetic Cognitive Style vocabulary pages to familiarize yourself with some common traits.

Constructionism, collaborative niche construction, bricolage, and toolbelt theory go great together. Imagine the possibilities in your spheres, especially for spiky profiles.

Take It further

Our spiky profiles need anti-ableist space that isn’t designed against us. We need space without behaviorism, segregation, or ableism. We need human-centered space designed to our edges.

► Main Takeaways

  •  The Need: Space without Behaviorism, Segregation, or Ableism
  •  The Answer: Reframing, Respectful Connection, and the Presumption of Competence
  •  The Feeling: Electric Belonging and Soaring Inclusion
  •  The Learning: Passion-Based, Human-Centered Learning Compatible With Neurodiversity and the Social Model of Disability
  •  Come As You Are to Cavendish Space
  •  We foster the feeling of access intimacy.
  •  We Create Anti-Ableist Space
  •  We Find Our People and Co-create Ecologies of Care

All these elements were part of Skinner’s teaching machines: the elimination of inefficiencies of the teacher, the delivery of immediate feedback, the ability for students to move through standardized content at their own pace.

Today’s ed-tech proponents call this “personalization.”

The Monsters of Education Technology

► Main Takeaways

  •  Caves, Campfires, and Watering Holes
  •  Dandelions, Tulips, and Orchids
  •  Niche Construction
  •  Cognitive Diversity Exists for a Reason
  •  Social Buffering and Collaborative Morality
  •  Interdependence and Collaboration


Day 3

Fix Injustice, Not Kids: We’ve Turned Classrooms Into a Hell for Neurodivergence

Themes: Behaviorism is bad. Neurodiversity instead.

Neurodiversity means that we are all different in how we think, feel, and learn, because our brains process information differentlyNeurodiversity includes everyone, because everyone has a brain! 



Today hits hard. We confront the harm done to neurodivergent and disabled students and propose alternatives.


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 meltdownsMeltdowns 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?


► Main Takeaways
  •  Enable Dignity
  •  Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Trauma
  •  Quick Low Cost Things to Make a Difference for Autistic People
  •  How to Make Your Events Accessible to the Disability Community
  •  Universal Design
  •  Neuroception and Sensory Load
  •  In Our Own Words: The Complex Sensory Experiences of Autistic Adults
  •  Sensory Environment Checklist
  •  Adapting the Environment
  •  Checklist for Autism-Friendly Environments
  •  Access Survey
  •  Anything but the Phone!
  •  Bodymind Affirmations
  •  Access Intimacy: That Elusive, Hard to Describe Feeling When Someone Else ‘Gets’ Your Access Needs
► Main Takeaways
  • Sensory Overwhelm and Meltdowns
  • The Bipartisanship of Behaviorism
  • Behaviorism: Measuring the Surface, Badly
  • Autistic Burnout
  • Autistic Adults and Autistic Community
  • We Don’t Need Your Mindset Marketing: Education Technology and the New Behaviorism
  • Fundamental Attribution Error and Harm Reduction Theater
  • Stop Bikeshedding Bigotry and Deficit Ideology
► Main Takeaways
  • Learn About Neurodiversity at School
  • Build a Community of Practice
  • Presume Competence
  • Foster Neurological Pluralism
  • Teach Autonomy and Self-Determination
  • Ditch “Special”
  • Use Our Language
  • Understand Monotropism and the Double Empathy Problem
  • Understand Exposure Anxiety, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, and Situational Mutism
  • Appreciate our Spiky Profiles
  • Reframe ADHD
  • Provide Opportunity but not Pressure
  • Understand Equity and Needs-based 
  • Affirm Our Bodyminds

Neurodivergent people are psychological safety barometers. When we have Cavendish space where we can construct niches, we can make cool stuff. #DIYEdge #Stimpunks #RollinOnOurOwn

Reflection Activity

Take some time to move and listen to our collaborative playlist. We’ll be hanging out in our track’s General Discussion channel on Discord. We’d love to hear what you think about the course so far.

Take It further

We must design for sensory and social regulation. Learn why and how! #DIYEdge #Stimpunks #RollinOnOurOwn

Abuse and silencing is a constant, pervasive theme in the lives of autistic people, and for many people it is best expressed by that old, familiar phrase from special education: quiet hands!

Loud hands means resisting. Loud Hands means speaking, however we do, anyway—and doing so in a way that can be very obviously Autistic. It means finding ways to talk and think about ourselves on our own terms.

There is room for all of us to play our part. And whatever we do, however we do it, we can do it with ‘loud hands’ and ‘loud voices,’ and loud whatever else we need, in whatever way that works for us individually or collectively. Let us be our real autistic selves, loud and proud, and show the world what we truly are.



Day 4

Choosing the Margin: Our Philosophical and Pedagogical Foundation


Choose the margin as a site of radical possibility.


Disabled and neurodivergent people are always edge cases, and edge cases are stress cases.

Our designs, our societies, and the boundaries of our compassion are tested at the edges, where the truths told are of bias, inequality, injustice, and thoughtlessness.

The insights of intersectionality, the social model of disability, and design for real life help us design and build for these truths and do the “truly essential work”.

These insights are there in the values statements of the Human Restoration Project.

4 Values Statements for an Equitable System
  1. Map a Path to Purpose
  2. Learn Experientially
  3. Connect to the Community
  4. Promote Literacy
  5. Create Cross-Disciplinary, Multi-Age Classrooms
  1. Reimagine Space & Promote Free Play
  2. Demand Anti-Racist, Inclusive Spaces
  3. Authenticate Student Voice
  4. Adopt Critical Pedagogy & Build Democratic Schools
  5. Utilize Restorative Justice
  1. Radically Reduce Homework
  2. Build Strong Relationships
  3. Eliminate Grading
  4. Redefine Assessment and End Testing
  5. Reform Food Systems
  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


► Main Takeaways
  • Compassion is not coddling.
  • The more dehumanized groups a person belongs to, the more their experience forces them to understand about the way society is structured.
  • This space of radical openness is a margin a profound edge.
  • Living as we did on the edge we developed a particular way of seeing reality.
  • We fear those who speak about us who do not speak to us and with us.
  • Marginality as site of resistance. Enter that space.
  • No one knows best the motion of the ocean than the fish that must fight the current to swim upstream.”
  • By focusing on the parts of the system that are most complex and where the people living it are the most vulnerable we understand the system best.
  • When we build things – we must think of the things our life doesn’t necessitate. Because someone’s life does.
► Main Takeaways
  • Design is tested at the edges.
  • Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason.
  • The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by diagnosis.
  • Laziness does not exist.
  • We urgently need a society that’s better at letting people get the rest they need.
  • When you measure include the measurer.
  • There is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity.
  • It is time to celebrate our interdependence!
  • Community is magic. Community is power. Community is resistance.
  • We exist as friction.
  • Nothing About Us Without Us
  • We should always be part of the conversation.
  • Embracing pluralism is good citizenship.
  • Name the systems of power.

► Main Takeaways

  • Create a neurodiverse inclusive environment.
  • Seven Pathways to Ensuring Life Long Learning Competencies
  • The Eight GAP Principles
  • Strong, Trusting Relationships
  • Attend to the practices, policies, and aspects of institutional culture that traumatize children at school.
  • Flow States Are the Pinnacle of Intrinsic Motivation
  • The Direct Confrontation Principle
  • The Prioritization Principle
  • The “Fix Injustice, Not Kids” Principle
  • Avoid These Equity Pitfalls
  • The Basics of Open Technology
  • Toolbelt Theory
  • The Open Schoolhouse


Our Mission & Philosophy is our heart, exposed. We get through rough nights on warm lines with our Mission page as we confront our truths and choose the margins.

We pay

We pay neurodivergent creators and amplify them to our clients and throughout society.

We exist

We exist for the direct support and mutual aid of neurodivergent and disabled people.

We believe

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.

We create

We create anti-ableist space for passion-basedhuman-centered learning compatible with neurodiversity and the social model of disability.

We serve

We serve our loved people so we can keep on living through the onslaught.

Peer-run warm lines – staffed by people who have lived mental health experience – have been shown to reduce loneliness and participants’ use of mental health crisis services. Additionally, a review of several studies found that digital forms of peer support improve the lives of people with serious mental illness by “enhancing participants’ functioning, reducing symptoms and improving program utilization.”


When we need to cry, we visit our Mission page. When we need to hope, we visit our Mission page. Our Mission page contains our Philosophy and our Code of Conduct. It preserves our souls and aligns us on our Mission.

  • Keep on Livin’
  • Let Us Be Our Real Selves
  • Be Good, Be Loud
  • Philosophy
  • Code of Conduct

Holding our mission statement as our North Star, we choose the margins. We choose interdependence.

We are interdependent.

Interdependence is our reality. Celebrate our interdependence! Notice and nourish the interdependence in your spheres.

The notion of disability in our society is underscored by a bizarre conception of “independence”.
It is time to celebrate our interdependence!
Collaboration allows us to create genuinely safe spaces for autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people.

The Myth of Independence: How The Social Model of Disability Exposes Society’s Double Standards » NeuroClastic

Are you an inclusive world builder or a eugenicist world builder? Neurodiversity is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. Ableism and eugenics are at the core of our most pressing issues, including in education, and neurodiversity is the answer. #DIYEdge #Stimpunks #RollinOnOurOwn

Are you an inclusive world builder or a eugenicist world builder?

Neurodiversity is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. Ableism and eugenics are at the core of our most pressing issues, including in education, and neurodiversity is the answer. Neurodiversity and disability communities have been fighting ableism, eugenics, pseudo-science, behaviorism, conversion therapy, anti-vaxxers, bigots, and the tyranny of the norm for decades. Join us in the trenches of pluralism. Our bodily autonomy and our very bodyminds are under attack.

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

We live in an age of unvarnished eugenics, and neurodiversity is our most powerful response to it.

Neurodiversity is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. It’s time is now.


On day 1, we mentioned developing a personal creed. Here’s our creed.

I know

I know that pluralism is our reality. I know that Neurodiversity is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation, and that Neurodiversity friendly forms of collaboration hold the potential to transform pathologically competitive and toxic teams and cultures. I know Autistic forms of communication within a neurodiverse team and within a psychologically safe environment impart a collaborative advantage to the entire team. I know neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and intersectionality are urgently needed reframing necessary to equity and inclusion.

I reframe

I 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. I reframe from deficit ideology to structural ideology.

I center

I center the marginalized and the different. I center edge cases, because edge cases are stress cases and design is tested at the edges. I center neurodivergent and disabled experience in service to all bodyminds.

I will

I will never stop learning. I will communicate as much as possible because communication is oxygen to an organization. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out another Stimpunk. I will maintain learner safety and remember what it is like to be a new contributor. I will make other people feel equal and not alone. I will build with, not for. I will default to open. 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. I will be a threat to inequity in my spheres of influence.

What’s your creed? Develop a personal creed to have with you as you navigate our systems.

Learn more about the Stimpunks team by reading our bios and listening to selections from our individually curated playlists. Or, if you need something a little more laid-back and cerebal, the below playlist may be just right for you.

Take it Further


Feed our bricolage! We’d love to see your suggestions on resources supporting the creation of safe spaces and the spirit of DIY at the Edge. You can share them in our Commonplace Notebook. We might incorporate them into our website and philosophy.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email