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We have created a system that has you submit yourself, or your child, to patient hood to access the right to learn differentlyOur friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals... More.
The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosisSelf diagnosis is not just “valid” — it is liberatory. When we define our community ourselves and wrest our right to self-definition back from the systems that painted us as... More.
Space without BehaviorismUltimately 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... More, Segregation, or Ableismable·ism /ˈābəˌlizəm/ nounA system of assigning value to people's bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply... More
Electric Belonging and Soaring Inclusion
Passion-Based, Human-Centered LearningA human-centered education: • Cultivates Purpose-Driven Classrooms • Ends Dehumanizing Practices • Demands Social Justice • Builds a Human-Centered World https://youtu.be/JsrsgM6LqiI https://youtu.be/h9gQXG9T1RM Build human-centered classrooms around four values: • Learning... More Compatible With NeurodiversityNeurodiversity is the diversity of human minds, the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species.NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodiversity is a biological fact. It’s not a perspective, an approach, a... More and the Social Model of DisabilityIn the broadest sense, the social model of disability is about nothing more complicated than a clear focus on the economic, environmental and cultural barriers encountered by people who are... More
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.
- The Gift: Learning Disabilities Reframed
- Challenge our definition of where disability lies.
- Learning Outside the Lines
- Normal Sucks
- The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis.
- ⛑📚 Our Pillars 🗂🧰
- ⏭ Next Pillar: Research
The Gift: Learning Disabilities Reframed
When you are identified as neurodivergentNeurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a mind that functions in ways which diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodivergent is quite... More as a young person, almost all of the professional advice you and your caregivers get from education and healthcare is steeped in deficit ideologyBriefly, deficit ideology is a worldview that explains and justifies outcome inequalities— standardized test scores or levels of educational attainment, for example—by pointing to supposed deficiencies within disenfranchised individuals and... More and the pathology paradigm. Faulty measurements of intelligence (IQIQ tests are designed to determine whether a person is developing within ‘normal range’ or is ‘slow’ or ‘stuck’ in his or her development. As autistic people live in a... More) effectively “designed to flunk an autistic person” set your narrativeWhen we successfully reframe public discourse, we change the way the public sees the world. We change what counts as common sense. Because language activates frames, new language is required... More as a peg to be bashed through a mold.
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 neurodivergent adults. Then, you discover neurodiversity, the social modelIn the broadest sense, the social model of disability is about nothing more complicated than a clear focus on the economic, environmental and cultural barriers encountered by people who are... More of disability, and the biopsychosocial modelThe proposed biopsychosocial model allows us to provide therapeutic intervention (medical model) and recommend structural accommodation (legislative obligation) without pathologization (social model). In other words, we can deal pragmatically with... More. And then, maybe, intersectionalityIntersectionality's raison dêtre is to reveal the systems that organize our society. Intersectionality's brilliance is that its fundamental contribution to how we view the world seems so common-sense once you... More, design for real lifeCompassion Isn't CoddlingPeople often mistake compassion for “being nice,” but it’s not.The point of compassion isn’t to soften bad news or stressful situations with niceties. It’s to come from a... More, and equity literate education. And then you find yourself in the healthier framingWhen we successfully reframe public discourse, we change the way the public sees the world. We change what counts as common sense. Because language activates frames, new language is required... More of structural ideologyEducators with a structural ideology understand that educational outcome disparities are dominantly the result of structural barriers, the logical if not purposeful outcome of inequitable distributions of opportunity and access... More that is better for you and better for the systems and institutions that you now have the language to confront and improve.
StimpunksStimpunk combines “stimming” + “punk” to evoke open and proud stimming, resistance to neurotypicalization, and the DIY culture of punk, disabled, and neurodivergent communities. Instead of hiding our stims, we... More Foundation exists because of a bipartisan embrace of “Empty Pedagogy, Behaviorism, and the Rejection of Equity”. Reframing away from behaviorism and the pathology paradigmWhen it comes to human neurodiversity, the dominant paradigm in the world today is what I refer to as the pathology paradigm. The long-term well-being and empowerment of Autistics and members of... More is urgently needed and essential.
The talk “The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed” by Jonathan Mooney is social model music. It is an important part of our journey of reframing at Stimpunks. Mooney provides necessary insight into neurodivergent learners. Every minute is worth your time.
Mooney’s perspective offers many takeaways. Two critical ones for us are these rules of thumb.
- agent > patient
- identity > diagnosis
Below, we’ve pulled quotes from the talk “The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed” as well as quotes from Mooney’s books “Learning Outside The Lines: Two Ivy League Students With Learning Disabilities And ADHD Give You The Tools For Academic Success and Educational Revolution” and “Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive, Outside the Lines“.
Challenge our definition of where disability lies.
We’ve built an entire edifice of intervention that’s about fixing people.
It’s not their minds or bodies that truly disable them. It’s how environment reacts to those differencesOur friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals... More. That’s where disability lies. Folks don’t have disability, they experience disability in environments that aren’t accessible and inclusive.
We should spend more time talking about how we change the environment that surrounds people and not the people themselves.
I did not overcome dyslexiaDyslexia is a genetic, brain-based characteristic that results in difficulty connecting the sounds of spoken language to written words. It can result in errors in reading or spelling as well... More. I overcame dysteachia. I overcame environments that weren’t built for my brain.
It’s that narrow definition of intelligence, behavior, and motivation that is really my disability. Not dyslexia, not ADHDADHD 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... More.
In many learning environments we think good kids sit still. The good kid is the compliant kid.
“What is your problem?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that word in my life.
I was given this identity that I was a problem because of a normNormal was created, not discovered, by flawed, eccentric, self-interested, racist, ableist, homophobic, sexist humans. Normal is a statistical fiction, nothing less. Knowing this is the first step toward reclaiming your... More in the environment that good kids sit still.
Difficult children make interesting adults.
We’ve built learning environments based on the myth that appropriate and valuable human behavior is about complianceNoncompliance is a social skill.Noncompliance is one of the most important social skills. Noncompliance skills make it possible to say no, even when others want your right to say no to... More.
We have conflated readingThere are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning Most schools and... More with intelligence.
We shouldn’t be asking ourselves, “how smart am I?” We should be asking, “how am I smart?”
I had overcome not ADHD, but I had overcome the feeling of being the defective person morally because I didn’t comply to the myth that good kids are compliant.
Intrinsic motivators are drivers like autonomySelf-determination Theory (SDT) is... — a model, a macro theory, of human motivation. It’s one of several models of human motivation, but it’s one that has been confirmed over and... More, masterySelf-determination Theory (SDT) is... — a model, a macro theory, of human motivation. It’s one of several models of human motivation, but it’s one that has been confirmed over and... More, and purposeSelf-determination Theory (SDT) is... — a model, a macro theory, of human motivation. It’s one of several models of human motivation, but it’s one that has been confirmed over and... More.
We’ve negated the powerThe 20th Century political scientist Karl Deutsch said, “Power is the ability not to have to learn.”I quote this statement often, because I think it’s one of the most important... More of choice and the power of letting folks craft an education that is grounded in their aspirations, their vision for themselves.
How do we build learning environments that embrace intrinsic motivationSelf-determination Theory (SDT) is... — a model, a macro theory, of human motivation. It’s one of several models of human motivation, but it’s one that has been confirmed over and... More: autonomy, mastery, and purpose?
An essential component of my journey was an identity transformation from being a patient to being an agent.
You don’t need somebody to fix you. You need somebody to fight for you, and with you, because what’s happening to you is an injustice.
I need to cultivate a rights based paradigm, a diversity framework, and I need to become an advocate against what is a form of discrimination and marginalization. That’s an important transformation in agency.
You gotta fight against this, you gotta be an advocate, you gotta have a voice in your education.
Consistently cultivate the language of high expectations.
Y’all know the file, right? This has been the thing that had been following me since I started special educationThe 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”... More. Those things are thick and deep. KGB got nothing on special ed.
That’s agency. That’s somebody who refuses to negate somebody’s humanity because of a label.
We spend so much time talking about the problem, we lose the person.
We spend so much time captured in this language of deficit that we lower expectations.
We need to cultivate a sense of agency in people which is the opposite of patient hood.
The most meaningful interventions, the most meaningful people in my life were people who cultivated a sense of agency.
Real intellectuals, they don’t careThe activities that constitute care are crucial for human life. We defined care in this way: Care is "a species activity that includes everything that we do to maintain, continue,... More how you get there, they just want you to get there.
He was gonna hold me to the highest expectations, but he was gonna give me multiple ways to meet those expectations. And that is what an agency education is all about.
How well I know something is more important than how fast I know something. We are not trying to educate a generation of Jeopardy contestants.
Accommodate, and change the environment.
Multiple ways to reach those expectations with a flexibility in the classroom that was inclusive of learning diversity.
Switch from a deficit paradigm to an asset-based strength paradigm.
It’s essential that we cultivate that capability framework, that asset based framework.
The moment that I could switch from what’s wrong with me to what’s right with me was a significant part of my journey.
Most of my education was all about what I couldn’t do.
We spent thousands dollars, thousands of hours on trying to fix one trait, frankly, perhaps the most irrelevant trait in the world in the 21st century, and that is spelling. God bless spellchecker.
The energy gone into fixing spelling, to worrying about spelling, it’s staggering.
All week we invested time, money, and relationship capital on fixing that irrelevant trait.
We’re not doing the spelling test today. We’re ditching school and going to the zoo.
The reporter asked me, “Jonathan, give my an inspiring message about how you got to Brown University for young people.” And I said, “ditch school.” Because what we and my mom did every Friday was we spent time getting good at something. We spent time developing strength. She literally called it the “get good at something day.” We spent time being interested in the world. We spent time figuring out where my capacities were, talking about how to make my way in the world with my capacities, not my deficits, but my assets. That was a radical shift in my life.
There is research is piling up every day that shows that school, including higher education, is trying to create generalists for a world of specialists.
More than ever the world rewards specialist knowledge.
School is the only place where we ask human beings to be good at all things.
I married my spellchecker. It’s called strategic mating.
We build supportive networks, we use technology, and we build a life not about what’s wrong with us, we build a life around what’s right with us.
We have built learning environments, our culture, our communitiesWhat I have always been hoping to accomplish is the creation of community.Community is magic. Community is power. Community is resistance.Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-First-Person-Stories-Twenty-First-ebook/dp/B082ZQBL98/ https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-Adapted-Young-Adults-ebook/dp/B08VFT4R9T/... More, around the myth of normalNormal was created, not discovered, by flawed, eccentric, self-interested, racist, ableist, homophobic, sexist humans. Normal is a statistical fiction, nothing less. Knowing this is the first step toward reclaiming your... More and average. That myth of normal and average has bombarded all people with a pervasive imperative that to be okay as a human being, to be acceptable as a human, you have to strive for this mythical norm, this mythical average, which by definition does not exist.
We didn’t have the word normal in the English language until the 1860s. Normal is a product linguistically of the industrial revolution , of standardizing production, of moving in a place that’s forcing people to fit that standardized mold. Normal is a statistical concept, not a fact in the world.
We have a medical communityWhat I have always been hoping to accomplish is the creation of community.Community is magic. Community is power. Community is resistance.Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-First-Person-Stories-Twenty-First-ebook/dp/B082ZQBL98/ https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-Adapted-Young-Adults-ebook/dp/B08VFT4R9T/... More that’s found a sickness for every single human difference. DSM keeps growing every single year with new ways to be defective, with new ways to be lessened.
The myth of normal is what’s broken, and the identity that, if you don’t fit it, that you are less than, that’s what’s broken. We need to reframe what we problematize, not bodies, not difference, but this pervasive imperative to be normal.
All progress, all evolutionShe tells of a radical fringe of scientists who are realizing that natural selection isn’t individual, but mutual—that species only survive if they learn to be in community.Emergent Strategy: Shaping... More, is driven by deviations from the norms.
All evolution and progress is driven by mutations and deviations. If we lose that, if we eradicate that, we have lost our strength as a community, as a society.
Disability industrial complex is all about what people can’t do. We spend most of our time trying to fix what they can’t do. When all we do is fix people the message we give to them is that they are broken.
Source: Jonathan Mooney: “The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed” – YouTube
Mooney’s “Redrawing the Lines, Neurodiversity: A Compass for the Changing World” is another great talk.
Learning Outside the Lines
For centuries, the word stupid, combined with various intensifiers like bad, lazyLaziness does not exist.People do not choose to fail or disappoint. No one wants to feel incapable, apathetic, or ineffective. If you look at a person’s action (or inaction) and... More, willful, or weak has been used to create a moral “diagnosis.” That moral diagnosis has ruined millions of lives.Learning Outside The Lines: Two Ivy League Students With Learning Disabilities And Adhd Give You The Tools Academic Success and Educational Revolution
Our life struggles had more to do with freeing ourselves from the institution of education than transcending our own personal weakness.
It is a loss and a crime when creativity, alternative learning skills, and an individualized education take a back seat to rote memorization, standardized testing, and the misconception that all people learn the same way.
Education is one of the most beautiful and liberating things we can pursue in our lives, but too often it is approached as a restrictive, punitive, linear, and moralistic act.
Throughout our lives, we had looked to the idea of succeeding in school to define our worth and our intelligence. In childhood, we were told we were defective goods, and to be better we had to be other than what we were.
Ultimately our diagnoses and the subsequent attempts at intervention allowed people to blame us, two powerless kids, for our failure instead of turning a critical eye toward the environment. It took us fifteen years of personal and academic struggle to stop blaming ourselves, to stop believing that we are inherently defective like “they” thought, and to come to realize how profound an effect the environment had on our inability to succeed. Only as time went on did simple interventions like the ability to get up out of our seats, the use of a spell checker, and progressive ideas like project-based learning and other modifications to the learning environment allow the pathology to slip into irrelevance and enable us to be successful. Our hard wiring is a simple cognitive difference. We all have them. But an oppressive educational environment that blames children for their failures caused us to grow up with the stigma of pathology.
Mooney, Jonathan; Cole, David (2014-07-01). Learning Outside The Lines: Two Ivy League Students With Learning Disabilities And Adhd Give You The Tools F. Touchstone. Kindle Edition.
The great sorting and pathologizing of difference are still with us today. This is dangerous, because if there is one thing I know, really know to my core, it’s that to define deviations from the norm as a deficit or disorder or abnormality is the first step in making a person into a problem to be fixed and a sickness to be cured.Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive, Outside the Lines
The sorting of typical humans into hierarchicalThe belief in the existence and relevance of social hierarchies must be suspended.The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations The extent to which a community... More medical categories of difference was not inevitable. Human differences had been, before this sorting, interrupted in other ways. Charles Darwin proved that all evolution was fueled by variation. Before the category of the abnormal, people with cognitive and physical differences were often considered wonderful, eccentric, remarkable, singular, extraordinary, queerBeing queer means constantly questioning what's considered "normal" and why that norm gets privileged over other ways of being. It means criticizing who sets these norms and recognizing the privilege... More, odd, strange, whimsical, absurd, and curious. According to Henri-Jacques Stiker, a disability historian, people with cognitive and physical differences during the Middle Ages “were spontaneously part of a world and of a society that was acceptedAcceptance means training mental health service providers to look at autism and other disabilities as a part of a person's identity, rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. Acceptance... More as being multifaceted.”
Difference became abnormality when the probability theorists, skull counters, and shrinks who brought us normal become coconspirators with the great sorters of the early twentieth century. Normal emerged, side by side and arm in arm, with the rise of science as a tool to describe and make sense out of the world. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, biologists created systems to categorize the natural world, astronomers mapped the sky, geographers the world, and anatomists the human body. Normal lurked in the background, drawing a line in these charts and systems between what was acceptable and what was not—and we all know that the not is abnormal.Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive, Outside the Lines
Normal has always been propped up by and constructed on the bodies and lives of the not normal. And to be on the bottom of that pile, to be the negation of normal that is its foundation, is to not just differ from normal; it is to be normal’s opposite—abnormal—which is false and wrong.
Just because normal isn’t a fact doesn’t mean it hasn’t been used to dehumanize people with differences. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Like normal, abnormal has a history, not of discovery but of invention. As you make your life, you need to know this history and the process and systems of normalization that have turned natural differences among humans into abnormalities to be diagnosed, categorized, and then of course, corrected. You are round pegs, as we all are, and no matter how much I try, I can’t protect you from the relentless message that you must fit the square hole.Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive, Outside the Lines
You are normal if your behavior, appearance, and background are the dominant culture. You are normal if you fit into this culture and are therefore deemed normal by the school, the church, the town, the doctor, the professor. Normal is what works in society’s norms. This is a whole new tautology—normal is what is called normal by people who are considered normal.
What a mess the twentieth century made out of normal.Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive, Outside the Lines
The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis.
Now that we’ve reframedWhen we successfully reframe public discourse, we change the way the public sees the world. We change what counts as common sense. Because language activates frames, new language is required... More learning and learners, let’s explore our next pillar: Research.
⛑📚 Our Pillars 🗂🧰
Real help against the onslaught. Staying alive is a lot of work for a disabledThe label "disabled" means so much to me. It means I have community. It means I have rights. It means I can be proud. It means I can affirm myself... More person in an ableist society. We exist for the direct support and mutual aidPut simply, mutual aid is a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions by building relationships, networks of reciprocity,... More of neurodivergent and disabled people.
The place where we belong does not exist. We will build it. Anti-ableist space for passion-based, human-centered learning compatible with neurodiversity and the social model of disability.
Digital sociologyBut, there is something sociology must do. It is our disciplinary imperative to understand societies. Just as communication studies understands forms of communication, sociology must understand the social. If we... More, neurodiversity studies, disability studies, and syncretism, in the open. Improving science by restoring the humanities. We bring voice into empirical constructs and translate voice into academic comprehension.
Stay relevant in a constantly changing world. Dismantle ableism in your spaces. Enable dignity through access. Client services are how we live our mission to employ neurodivergent and disabled people as well as how we raise capital for grantmaking.
⏭ Next Pillar: Research
The story continues with, “🗂 Facts, Fire, and Feels: Research-Storytelling from the Edges“