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

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Randimals arranged in two rows. The top row shows the plush Randimals. The bottom row shows the hard toy Randimals.
Randimals

Our friends and allies at Randimals have a saying,

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

Randimals

We agree.

🦔 Spiky Profiles

Randimals are made up of two different animals which means they are a unique blend of personalities, characteristics, instincts and skills.
The heart of the Randimals story is about celebrating difference. It’s about recognizing that we are all unique and that we all have something extremely wonderful and special to offer.

About The Randimals

Many years ago, a friend dubbed Stimpunk Ryan “Bearmouse”, intuiting a part of his neurodivergent spiky profile.

Drawing of a Bearmouse: combination bear + mouse
Bearmouse

There is consensus regarding some neurodevelopmental conditions being classed as neurominorities, with a ‘spiky profile’ of executive functions difficulties juxtaposed against neurocognitive strengths as a defining characteristic.

Neurominorities, Spiky Profiles, and the Biopsychosocial Model at Work

One of the primary things I wish people knew about autism is that autistic people tend to have ‘spiky skills profiles:’ we are good at some things, bad at other things, and the difference between the two tends to be much greater than it is for most other people.

Autistic Skill Sets: A Spiky Profile of Peaks and Troughs » NeuroClastic

Splinter Skills and Spiky Profiles

This is what life is like when you have a spiky profile: a phenomenon whereby the disparity between strengths and weaknesses is more pronounced than for the average person. It’s characteristic among neuro-minorities: those who have neurodevelopmental conditions including autism and ADHD. When plotted on a graph, strengths and weaknesses play out in a pattern of high peaks and low troughs, resulting in a spiky appearance. Neurotypical people tend to have a flatter profile because the disparity is less pronounced.

Autism And The Spiky Profile. When you excel at some things and… | Autistic Discovery

Because we are bad at some things, people often expect us to be bad at other things; for example, they see someone failing to conform with social expectations, and assume that person has impaired intelligence. But because we are good at some things, people are often impatient when we’re not as skilled or need support in other areas.

Sometimes people talk about these islands of ability as ‘splinter skills’ — often autistic people are really very good at things we’re good at. Mostly the skills are the result of putting a lot of work in because we’re interested in it, not that we always have much control over where our interest takes us.

Autistic Skill Sets: A Spiky Profile of Peaks and Troughs » NeuroClastic

With their splinter skills and spiky profiles in mind, Stimpunk Inna decided on Bunnybadger and Stimpunk Chelsea decided on Pandillo. Their Randimals evoke their neurodivergent profiles.

Drawing of a Randimal that combines a bunny and a badger
Bunnybadger
Drawing of a Randimal that combines a panda and an armadillo
Pandillo

Image credit: Stimpunk Becky Hicks

Our Randimals capture our exposure anxiety, social anxiety, rejection sensitive dysphoria, emotional sunburn, very grand emotions, sense of justice, and other neurodivergent traits that manifest through our spiky profiles.

Spiky Profiles

…the psychological definition refers to the diversity within an individual’s cognitive ability, wherein there are large, statistically-significant disparities between peaks and troughs of the profile (known as a ‘spiky profile’, see Fig. 1). A ‘neurotypical’ is thus someone whose cognitive scores fall within one or two standard deviations of each other, forming a relatively ‘flat’ profile, be those scores average, above or below. Neurotypical is numerically distinct from those whose abilities and skills cross two or more standard deviations within the normal distribution.

Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults | British Medical Bulletin | Oxford Academic
Figure 1 is adapted from the British Psychological Society report on Psychology at Work,10 page 44, and depicts scores from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale,11which provides clear guidance on the level of difference between strengths and weaknesses that is typical or of clinical significance.
Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults | British Medical Bulletin | Oxford Academic

Spiky Profiles Exist for a Reason

In that same interview, when he was asked about what would happen to society if autism was eliminated, he said, “That goes to the larger issue that we wrestle with all the time around [artificial intelligence]. Part of what makes us human are [sic] the kinks. They’re the mutations, the outliers, the flaws that create art or the new invention, right? We have to assume that if a system is perfect, then it’s static. And part of what makes us who we are, and part of what makes us alive, is that we’re dynamic and we’re surprised.”

We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation (p. 22)
Hard toy of Squigger, a Randimal that combines a Tiger and a Squirrel

ADHD or what I prefer to call Kinetic Cognitive Style (KCS) is another good example. (Nick Walker coined this alternative term.) The name ADHD implies that Kinetics like me have a deficit of attention, which could be the case as seen from a certain perspective. On the other hand, a better, more invariantly consistent perspective is that Kinetics distribute their attention differently. New research seems to point out that KCS was present at least as far back as the days in which humans lived in hunter-gatherer societies. In a sense, being a Kinetic in the days that humans were nomads would have been a great advantage. As hunters they would have noticed any changes in their surroundings more easily, and they would have been more active and ready for the hunt. In modern society it is seen as a disorder, but this again is more of a value judgment than a scientific fact.

Bias: From Normalization to Neurodiversity – Neurodivergencia Latina

If neurodivergence is essentially disablement, why do we keep replicating the gene pool?

Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults | British Medical Bulletin | Oxford Academic

Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species.

A Thousand Rivers — Carol Black

🏔 Learning Terroir

We also believe in the concept of terroir, used so beautifully as a metaphor by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze in Walk Out Walk On – that the soil and climate of two different continents produce variations in crops even when the seeds planted are the same (Wheatley and Frieze 2011). Schools are like that, too. Two schools may be situated in different terroir even though children work and play similarly no matter where we visit. However, those children grow up in different cultural contexts that shape what they bring with them into school. Educators do the same. Because of that, each school represents a unique identity, one shaped locally.

Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools

Randimals are expressions of spiky profiles. They’re also expressions of learning terroir. “Bearmouse” captures Ryan’s sensory and social sensitivities and his need for a “cave” archetypal learning space.

The cave is a private space where an individual can think, reflect, and transform learning from external knowledge to internal belief. 

Australia’s Campfires, Caves, and Watering Holes

The cave is a private space, where students can find that much needed alone time useful for reflection on their learning or just to recharge. (a necessary space for those students with Aspergers).

Campfires, Caves and Watering holes | Libraries, Youth and the Digital Age
photo of man sitting on a cave
bonfire

The campfire is a space where people gather to learn from an expert. In the days of yore, wise elders passed down insights through storytelling, and in doing so replicated culture for the next generation.

Australia’s Campfires, Caves, and Watering Holes

sensory hyperreactivity can greatly impact quality of life and has been found to correlate with clinically elevated levels of anxiety in both autistic children and adults

Autistic sensory experiences, in our own words
woman with purple flower on ear
pink and white orchids

In summary, while some people are highly sensitive (i.e. orchids), the majority have a medium sensitivity (i.e. tulips) and a substantial minority are characterised by a particularly low sensitivity (i.e. dandelions).

Dandelions, tulips and orchids: evidence for the existence of low-sensitive, medium-sensitive and high-sensitive individuals | Translational Psychiatry
elephant-herd-of-elephants-african-bush-elephant-africa-59989.jpeg
Hard toy of Ellarilla, a Randimal that combines an elephant and a gorilla

The watering hole is an informal space where peers can share information and discoveries, acting as both learner and teacher simultaneously. This shared space can serve as an incubator for ideas and can promote a sense of shared culture. It is an informal area, where students can share in collaborative learning experiences.

Australia’s Campfires, Caves, and Watering Holes: Educators on ISTE’s Australian Study Tour Discovered How to Create New Learning and Teaching Environments where Curriculum and Instructional Tools Meet the Digital Age

French winemakers use the term terroir to describe the unique characteristics that place bestows on each varietal. It is what makes us desire champagne from France, coffee from Kenya, cigars from Cuba, and sourdough from San Francisco. The word itself means something like “a sense of place,” which emerges from the unique qualities of soil, climate, and topography.

Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now

🏗 Collaborative Niche Construction

shallow focus photography of white plant

When learning is allowed to be projectproblem, and passion driven, then children learn because of their terroir, not disengage in spite of it. When we recognize biodiversity in our schools as healthy, then we increase the likelihood that our ecosystems will thrive.

To be contributors to educating children to live in a world that is increasingly challenging to negotiate, schools must be ​conceptualized as ecological communities, spaces for learning with the potential to embody all of the concepts of the ecosystem – interactivity, biodiversity, connections, adaptability, succession, and balance.

Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools

The Cavendish Space section of our site explains the three archetypal learning spaces (cave, campfire, watering hole), and the three sensitivities (dandelion, tulip, orchid). Bearmouse Ryan is a cave orchid constantly constructing compatible niches: from closet sanctuaries and pillow forts as a kid to office and learning spaces as an adult. Like others in the community, Ryan spent decades learning how to change his environment to make himself comfortable, when he was allowed to live by his own rules.

Hard toy of Eagert, a Randimal that combines a eagle and a leopard

Living by her own rules has had a massive positive effect. She’s constantly making adjustments, finding new ways to make herself more comfortable. “Everything feels different, it really does impact everything. Like my body was masked!” she says. Now that her daily environment works with her body rather than against it, she feels physically and mentally free. Marta Rose writes that divergent design should honor the unique relationships Autistic people have to objects.

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity (p. 16

It took me decades to learn how to change my environment to make myself comfortable.

@willaful

It took decades to learn I was allowed.

@steve_asbell

Disability and difference are engines of innovation, collaboration, and collaborative niche construction.

Autistic people have built many niche communities from the ground up—both out of necessity and because our interests and modes of being are, well, weird.

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity (p. 218)

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

Collaborative niche construction allows organisations and people to participate in the evolution of a living system and results in resilient social ecosystems.

THE BEAUTY OF COLLABORATION AT HUMAN SCALE: TIMELESS PATTERNS OF HUMAN LIMITATIONS
Hard toy of Seadog, a Randimal that combines a sea lion and a dog

In the field of biology, the term niche construction is used to describe an emerging phenomenon in the understanding of human evolution. Since the days of Darwin, scientists have emphasized the importance of natural selection in evolution-the process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. In natural selection, the environment represents a static entity to which a species must either adapt or fail to adapt. In niche construction, however, the species acts directly upon the environment to change it, thereby creating more favorable conditions for its survival and the passing on of its genes. Scientists now say that niche construction may be every bit as important for survival as natural selection (Lewontin, 2010; Odling-Smee, Laland, & Feldman, 2003).

We see many examples of niche construction in nature: a beaver building a dam, bees creating a hive, a spider spinning a web, a bird building a nest. All of these creatures are changing their immediate environment in order to ensure their survival. Essentially, they’re creating their own version of a “least restrictive environment.”

 Reimagining Inclusion with Positive Niche Construction

🦸‍♀️ Special Interests Feed Niche Construction

Autistic people created the concept of fandom. In his book NeuroTribes, Steve Silberman describes how Autistic nerds in the early 1900s traveled across the country by car, on foot, and even by hopping trains in order to meet people who shared their niche interests.

Autistic people are also a foundational part of most fandoms and conventions centered around shared hobbies—we devote a lot of energy to finding and creating spaces where we can interact with people who share our interests, and within nerdy fandom spaces, social norms tend to be more forgiving and relaxed. It turns out that special interests aid us in becoming more outgoing, well-rounded individuals.

This frequently plays out in fandoms and nerdy communities, where neurodiverse people with mutual special interests find one another, socialize, and sometimes begin to unmask.

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity (p. 153, 218)
Hard toy of Zangeroo, a Randimal that combines a zebra and a kangaroo
Zangeroo

I don’t know who invented the phrase “special interest.”  Probably some researcher. Autistic people don’t really love the term because the term “special” has become tied so closely with terms like “special needs,”  which we resent.

Nevertheless, somewhere down the line “special interest,” commonly shortened to SpIn (“spin”), became the term for the characteristically-autistic tendency to develop an obsession with something specific and often obscure.

Some special interests are short lived, and some last the lifetime of the person; but, however long they last, they are intense, delightful, and a vital part of autistic culture.

So integral are special interests to autistic culture that autistic people will post about feeling depressed and unmotivated because they don’t have an active SpIn at the moment.

Other people will post seeking reassurance that they are “valid” autistic people even though they don’t have many, or any, SpIns. They are quickly reassured that yes, they are valid.

SpIns aren’t required for an autism diagnosis, although “restricted interests” is mentioned among the diagnostic criteria. They are extremely common, however, and the majority of autistic people have SpIns at least some of the time.

Having a special interest is like having a crush or being newly in love. It is consuming and delightful. We love to share our special interests and a common example of autistic empathy is encouraging others to talk in great detail– “infodump”– about their SpIns.

It is considered a sign of caring and friendship to encourage someone to talk to you about their SpIn– whether or not you actually share their interest– because nothing makes an autistic person happier than discussing, learning about, or sharing about, their SpIn.

It is also quite acceptable in autistic culture to “infodump” on a topic whenever it happens to come up. To autists (an insider short-hand for autistic people), the sharing of knowledge and information is always welcome.

Forget small talk.

Let me tell you about Giant Squid. Then you can explain the London Underground to me and we’ll both have a wonderful time.

7 Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture

Darko Suvin, a leading scholar of the genre, described the subversive impulse at the heart of science fiction as an expression of “cognitive estrangement” from the mainstream. Fandom tapped into a deep yearning to rise above the circumstances of humdrum existence and become part of something noble, deeply informed, and not widely understood. The thrill of being part of something that few people could appreciate was particularly keen for those who had spent their lives being ridiculed. No one could make you a fan—or prevent you from being one—but yourself, and no one could judge you but your peers of choice: your fellow “fen.”

Fandom offered what every homesick space child yearned for: membership in an elite society of loners united by their belief in the future. For those who had felt like exiles their whole lives, forced to live among strangers, becoming a fan was like finally coming home.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

🌈 Neurological Pluralism

Randimals evoke spiky profiles, learning terroir, collaborative niche construction, and special interests. Understanding these is critical to fostering neurological pluralism.

ANI launched its online list, ANI-L, in 1994. Like a specialized ecological niche, ANI-L had acted as an incubator for Autistic culture, accelerating its evolution. In 1996, a computer programmer in the Netherlands named Martijn Dekker set up a list called Independent Living on the Autism Spectrum, or InLv. People with dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and a myriad of other conditions (christened “cousins” in the early days of ANI) were also welcome to join the list. InLv was another nutrient-rich tide pool that accelerated the evolution of autistic culture. The collective ethos of InLv, said writer and list member Harvey Blume in the New York Times in 1997, was “neurological pluralism.” He was the first mainstream journalist to pick up on the significance of online communities for people with neurological differences. “The impact of the Internet on autistics,” Blume predicted, “may one day be compared in magnitude to the spread of sign language among the deaf.”

The neurodiversity movement: Autism is a minority group. NeuroTribes excerpt.
Hard toy of Guck, a Randimal that combines a horse and a duck

Randimals foster the ethos of neurological pluralism.

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

🦄 Let’s be weird.

What and who are you?
You don’t fit in here.

Randimals Book

👏 Let’s be proud of what we are.

Hey you!

Yes you.

Are you weird?

Are you sure about that?

Has anybody misunderstood you?

And they called you names because your mind works differently than theirs?

Did you find it upsetting?

Then you’re weird!

And that makes you one of us.

Weird people like you aren’t alone because there are millions of us everywhere.

Weird Pride Promo 2021 – YouTube

Be proud of what you are.
We’re weird, and we’re glad we are.

Weird Pride Promo 2021
Finding our community, our mob you might say,
This is our family, where we can work and play.
Here among these people, as aliens we bring,
This is where my heart can rest, and my soul can sing.

Yes I am autistic, ADHD too,
Yes I am dyspraxic, and I just may do.
But even if you're not like me,
Even if we don't agree,
We can be friends in this place,
It's called acceptance of our race.

Acceptance of our culture,
The way we operate,
The way our passions give us joy,
The way we love and create.

It might be different from others,
It might not be for you,
But this is where we thrive and give,
Where in relationship we live.

Come Join Me!

Belonging Mutants Seers and me

Hard toy of P-Dawg, a Randimal that combines a penguin and a dog
P-Dawg

🫀🧠 Difference Is a Teacher

Difference is not our deficit; it’s our operating system.

Disrupting the Digital Humanities
Ellarilla
Seadog

Diversity is strength. Difference is a teacher. Fear difference, you learn nothing.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species.

A Thousand Rivers
Eagard
Hamlion

To face the challenges of the future, we’ll need the problem-solving abilities of different types of minds working together.

The Best Autism Books, recommended by Steve Silberman

Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
Hork
Zangeroo

The ways we relate are different. Approach respectfully, without preconceptions, and with openness to learning new things, and you’ll find a world you could never have imagined.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless Patterns of Human Limitations

Magic happens when you combine collaboration and neurodiversity.

Celebration of interdependence | Autistic Collaboration
Huck
P-Dawg

The place where we belong does not exist. We will build it.

Unbelonging – Mango and Marigold Press

Everyone deserves to be proud of the things that make them different.

Oolong 🍉
Squigger

I seek a reconceptualization of cognitive difference, to the end that those who bear now-stigmatizing labels of “deviance,” “disorder” and “syndrome,” may live and manifest their individuality, distinctive interests, gifts and capacities with integrity, in a manner that comes naturally to them, free of pressure to become people they are not, free of the automatic assignation of inferior status; and that they may enjoy the respect of their fellow citizens, rather than disdain and exclusion.

neurodiversity.com | the autistic distinction

Re-conceptualize. Learn about us, from us.

∞ Weird Like You and Me

Thanks to the folks at Randimals for helping us tell our story and have some fun. They’re weird like you and me, they honor neurodivergent people as a “foundational part of most fandoms“, and they “honor the unique relationships Autistic people have to objects“.

Hard toy of Hork, a Randimal that combines a horse and a shark
Hork

Divergent design should honor the unique relationships Autistic people have to objects.
Many of us identify with the items we love, and even feel a degree of empathy for them, as if they were alive. Psychologists call this phenomenon object personification, and Autistics exhibit it at an elevated rate compared to the neurotypical population. We also tend to connect emotionally with animals more readily than people, which can also influence how our home environments should be arranged. Autistic people frequently rely on beloved objects to provide consistency, familiarity, and emotional grounding.

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity (p. 169, 170)
Plush toy of Hamlion, a Randimal that combines a hamster and a lion

Most of us have a favourite soft toy from childhood. A silent ally who over time becomes sidelined and left on a shelf. But for some adults they remain an essential presence never leaving the side of their owner.

Jamie’s coping strategies include eating the same meal every night – filled pasta with sauce – and having Lion at his side, no matter where he goes.

Carrying an object around brings some structure and consistency to his environment. The toy lion has a familiar texture and smell which helps in those moments when he feels “overloaded”.

Jamie and his Lion: The adults who take their soft toys to work – BBC News

If you’re not real, then how come I feel this way, little babies?

@jennaclementines

Do you personify objects? Giving human qualities to inanimate objects. #olp #synesthesia #autistic

♬ sonido original – Linda Belcher Everyday

Does anyone else apologize to their stuffed animal?

@8chickennuggets

#greenscreen #autismacceptance #autism Object personification, a trait a lot of Autistics don’t know about XD

♬ Living In The Sunlight – Spongebob

Does anybody else feel sorry for inanimate objects?

Do you form strong emotional attachments to inanimate objects?

@hellokittyyswitchblade

i could make 50 of these vids, WHY DID MY MOM NOT TAKE ME TO THE GP LUV??? #autismawareness #autisminchildren

♬ when ur sad but still vibin – Pluto Calico

I want waffle fries!

You're my half brother and my fully-fledged friend!
We're buddies forever from beginning to the end
Nobody's a nobody and everybody is weird like you and me!

Don't have to look beside me to know that you are there!
If two things act as one are they still a pair?
Nobody's a nobody and everybody is weird like you and me!

I'm the sugar you're the lemons we're a weird lemonade
But you're the brothers that I'd never trade
Nobody's a nobody and everybody is weird like you and me!

You're my right hand guy and the shoulder that I cry on
My brain when I'm confused, an arm to lean a while on
Nobody's a nobody and everybody is weird like you and me!
You can walk, run, swim, roll, hop, skip, or fly
If we're going different ways, you're my kind of guy
Difference doesn't matter, if nobody's the same
There is no two clouds alike in the great big sky

So don't be scared to come out your shell too
There's always someone out there to love the real you
Nobody's a nobody
And everybody is weird like you and me

You can walk, run, swim, roll, hop, skip, or fly
If you're going different ways you're my kind of guy
Difference doesn't matter, If nobody's the same
A space for every star in the great big sky

Nobody’s a nobody and everybody is weird like you and me!

The Amazing World of Gumball – Nobody’s A Nobody
Hard toy of Hamlion, a Randimal that combines a hamster and a lion
Hamlion
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