Man sitting in the mouth of a cave with open sky and mountain showing beyond the cave

Day 2 – Reframing Learning: How We Use Caves, Campfires, and Watering Holes to Nurture Intrinsic Motivation, Enter Flow States, and Make Rock ‘n’ Roll

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


We are 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


What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.

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.

Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism

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

Josephmooon written in a font resembling a moon rock. The middle O in mooon is a picture of the moon
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 place where we belong does not exist. We will build it.
  • The need for anti-ableist learning space for neurodivergent and disabled people is now.
  • My kids have been kicked out of many, many places for being different—just like I was.
  • The question is simple: Is there room for disabled kids at a piano school? On a swim team? In most classrooms? The answer, right now, seems to be no.
  • Creating paths to equity and access for all children remains the grand challenge of public education in America.
  • A humane education is one whose organizing principle is the innate capacity of students to be critical, empathetic agents in their communities and on the global stage.
  • A human-centered classroom is needed now more than ever.
  • We have created a system that has you submit yourself, or your child, to patient hood to access the right to learn differently. The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis.
  • Neurodivergent and disabled learners need anti-ableist space, and we need it now.
  • In anti-ableist space, there is no segregation of “special”.
  • The word “special” is used to sugar-coat segregation and societal exclusion – and its continued use in our language, education systems, media etc serves to maintain those increasingly antiquated “special” concepts that line the path to a life of exclusion and low expectations.
  • Special Education 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.
  • In anti-ableist space, there is no behaviorism.
  • ABA is loathed by autistic adults who are able to describe their experience with it.
  • Autistics have been excluded from all committees, panels, boards, etc., charged with developing, directing, and assessing ABA research and treatment programs.
  • The most restrictive virtual straitjacket that educators face is behaviorism.
  • 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.
  • Trainers are rejecting behaviorism because it harms animals emotionally and psychologically. What does that say about classrooms that embrace it?
  • We cannot replace agency with response to stimuli.
  • I make the right mistakes, and I say what I mean. Spare Me From The Mold!
  • 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.
  • In anti-ableist space, there is no “earning your token”
  • “When I was a little girl, I was autistic. And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy.”
  • Too much autism research has been done without autistic input.
  • The failures of autism science are not random: they reflect systematic power imbalances.
  • The problems associated with ABA run very deep. It is a human rights violation to continue to ignore and discount the voices of Autistic people about deeply traumatising and harmful “therapies” such as ABA.
  • Behaviorism is a repudiation, an almost willful dismissal, of subjective experience.
  • Current research has suggested ABA as causing a severe level of trauma from childhood participation.
  • Bring voice into empirical constructs. Translate voice into academic comprehension.
  • ABA has never been shown to be even slightly efficacious for the nonverbal Autism population.
  • Research in ABA continues to neglect the structure of the autistic brain, the overstimulation of the autistic brain, the trajectory of child development, or the complex nature of human psychology.
  • The conditions created by ABA foster psychological ill-being.
  • ABA is negatively affecting the autistic population.
  • Adult autistics who have undergone ABA have described as violating the fundamental tenets of bioethics, as well as the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • 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.
  • I don’t need a cure for me.
  • In anti-ableist space, we are active agents in our own embodied experience.
  • I am not a manifestation of stimuli and response. I am agential. I am Autonomously Autistic.
  • Despite progress toward new models of disability, Autistic subjectivity is still locked within medical pathologies and assumptions of deficit.
  • Self-Determination Theory positions itself as directly and unapologetically antithetical to behaviorism.

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


The Need: Space without Behaviorism, Segregation, or Ableism

The Need: Space without Behaviorism, Segregation, or Ableism

  •  In anti-ableist space, there is no segregation of “special”.
  •  In anti-ableist space, there is no behaviorism.
  •  In anti-ableist space, there is no “earning your token”.
  •  In anti-ableist space, we are active agents in our own embodied experience.
The Answer: Reframing, Respectful Connection, and the Presumption of Competence

The Answer: Reframing, Respectful Connection, and the Presumption of Competence

  • Instead of behaviorism, segregation, and therapies ingrained with ableism, we practice respectful connection.
  • Instead of deficit ideology and the pathology paradigm, we reframe.
  • Instead of presuming incompetence, we presume competence.
  •  Instead of behaviorist control, we pursue self-determination, intrinsic motivation, and flow.
The Feeling: Electric Belonging and Soaring Inclusion

The Feeling: Electric Belonging and Soaring Inclusion

  •  We create crip space that evokes the electrifying feeling of belonging.
  •  We foster the feeling of access intimacy.
  •  The Learning: Passion-Based, Human-Centered Learning Compatible With Neurodiversity and the Social Model of Disability
  •  Come As You Are to Cavendish Space
  •  We Create Anti-Ableist Space
  •  We Find Our People and Co-create Ecologies of Care
  •  Stimpunks Foundation Presents: Stimpunks Space
The Learning: Passion-Based, Human-Centered Learning Compatible With Neurodiversity and the Social Model of Disability
The Gift: Learning Disabilities Reframed

Continue with Day 3 – Fix Injustice, Not Kids: We’ve Turned Classrooms Into a Hell for Neurodivergence