Reframe Disability and Difference

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

Normal Sucks: Author Jonathan Mooney on How Schools Fail Kids with Learning Differences
Abstract algorithmic art where a butterfly is made out of butterflies
Image Credit: Adriel Wool

I used to tell my students that ideology never announces itself as ideology. It naturalizes itself like the air we breath. It doesn’t acknowledge that it is a way of looking at the word; it proceeds as if it is the only way of looking at the world. At its most effective, it renders itself unassailable: just the way things are. Not an opinion, not the result of centuries of implicit and explicit messaging, not a means of upholding a power structure. It just is.

the shame is ours

When 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 for new frames. Thinking differently requires speaking differently.

The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

Challenge the norm and change the narrative by 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.

We, Stimpunks
You think you know me?
No, you don't know me
Don't fence me in, I wanna be big
I wanna be part of everyone and everything
No fence around me
No, you can't limit me
I'm in-between, your set of rules
Don't even come close to applying to me

Bah! binaries
It's all make believe
I wanna be part of everyone and everything

--Dont' Fence Me In

We reframe to live proudly.

We are marginalized canaries in a social coalmine and Rawlsian barometers of society’s morality. It is deeply subversive to live proudly despite being living embodiments of our culture’s long standing ethical failings.

Our non-compliance is not intended to be rebellious. We simply do not comply with things that harm us. But since a great number of things that harm us are not harmful to most neurotypicals, we are viewed as untamed and in need of straightening up.

THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: ON HANS ASPERGER, THE NAZIS, AND AUTISM: A CONVERSATION ACROSS NEUROLOGIES
Don’t know about you but I,
I wanna see this through

Wouldn’t it be nice
To believe
In yourself

--I Wanna See This Through by Aubrey Hays

We reframe to be our real selves.

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.

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking (p. 8, 125). Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Am I on the level yet? (Level yet)
How did I do on your little test?
Get my brain to reset (Reset)
‘Cause everything you say is static
Do I make a good pet? (Good pet)
Obey the commands or get the back of the hand
‘Cause the world wasn’t built for a brain like mine
Change my mind, change my mind, change my mind

This construct
Was built and can be dismantled
We stand together
We think apart

We reframe to build community.

…the central tension of punk rock: it was built on individualism and an anti-hero ethos, yet expressed itself as a community. The motivation for punk was individualistic artistic expression, but the glue for the subculture was the experience of finding like-minded misfits.

We accept you, one of us?: punk rock, community, and individualism in an uncertain era, 1974-1985

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.

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)

Disability’s no longer just a diagnosis; it’s a community.

Liz Jackson: Designing for Inclusivity

Autistic kids need access to autistic communities. They need access to autistic mentors. They need to know that the problems they go through are actually common for many of us! They need to know they are not alone. They need to know that they matter and people care about them. They need to see autistic adults out in the world being accommodated and understood and respected. They need to learn how to understand their own alexithymia and their own emotions. They need to be able to recognize themselves in others. They need to be able to breathe.

AutisticSciencePerson

In Te Reo Māori the word for Autistic ways of being is Takiwātanga, which means “in their own space and time”. Most Autists are not born into healthy Autistic families. We have to co-create our Autistic families in our own space and time.

A communal definition of Autistic ways of being

We reframe to find our people.

A young person with a back pack on looks down a city street, buildings resembling book spines line each side. Text reads: Find Your People
A young person with a back pack on looks down a city street, buildings resembling book spines line each side. Text reads: Find Your People
Image Credit: Swamburger

Until one day… you find a whole world of people who understand.

The internet has allowed autistic people- who might be shut in their homes, unable to speak aloud, or unable to travel independently- to mingle with each other, share experiences, and talk about our lives to people who feel the same way.

We were no longer alone.

7 Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture » NeuroClastic
A blue humanoid wearing a yellow Star Trek uniform sits alone on a bench accompanied by their belongings. A space scene with a path into they sky is in the background
Heike Blakley
All Hail Open Doors

Did you ever feel

Like you don’t quite belong

Just hold on

And go find your people

Find your people

Opening doors has become my calling

Welcome to this house

All Hail Open Doors by Swamburger and Scarlet Monk of Mugs and Pockets

I believe all persons with Autism need the opportunity to become friends with other Autistic people. Without this contact we feel alien to this world. We feel lonely. Feeling like an alien is a slow death. It’s sadness, self-hate, it’s continuously striving to be someone we’re not. It’s waking up each day and functioning in falsehood (French, 1993).

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking
A person sits in a shopping cart in a parking lot with a paper bag with a smiley face on it over their head. A street sign reads "Lost, Very Lost" with arrows pointing left and right
Lost by Heike Blakley

How can we cultivate spaces where everyone has that soaring sense of inclusion, where we can have difficult and meaningful conversations?

Because everyone deserves the shelter and embrace of crip space, to find their people and set down roots in a place they can call home.

“The Beauty of Spaces Created for and by Disabled People” by s.e. smith in “Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the 21st Century
Are you awake or are you sleeping?
Are you afraid? We've been waiting for this meeting

We have come here for you, and we're coming in peace
Mothership will take you on higher, higher
This world you live in is not a place for someone like you
Come on, let us take you home

It's time to go, you are infected
Come as you are, don't be scared of us, you'll be protected
(Protected, protected)
I guess you are a different kind of human
I guess you are a different kind of human

Omega hai foleet, Omega hai foleet

There is a flaw in man-made matters
But you are pure, and we have to get you out of here

--A Different Kind of Human by AURORA

Don’t be scared; you’re okay. You can come with us, and you’ll be safe.

AURORA on Twitter: “Track number 8: A Different Kind Of Human.”

Omega hai foleet

A young person wearing a cape and hood with a square hole in their chest filled with an oversized heart and carrying a briefcase points up at a flying saucer
By Swamburger and Scarlet Monk of Mugs and Pockets

We reframe to demonstrate agency.

It is also important to recognise that autistic people inevitably change the structures they inhabit in a unique way because they are autistic and despite any neurotypical attempts to kerb their tendency to do that. If their autistic disposition were not what it is, the neurotypical world would not try to manage and control it. Existing as an autistic person, therefore, is almost a forceful demonstration in agency.

Frontiers | A Critical Realist Approach on Autism: Ontological and Epistemological Implications for Knowledge Production in Autism Research | Psychology
Ordinary tried to fix me
I was a threat to a page in history
Miss me with the treatment, doo-wop bleaching
Straighten my kinky with a new pop Legion

--Talent by Swamburger

Welcome to our nutrient-rich tide pool of like-minded misfits, with loud hands.

Reframe with us.

Black and white umbrella with the handle shaped like a capital U

Stimpunks combines “stimming” + “punks” 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 bring them to the front.

Everything that was normally supposed to be hidden was brought to the front.

PUNK SUBCULTURE – WIKIPEDIA

The First Rule of Punk: Be Yourself

Our Second Rule of Punk: Reframe

Book cover featuring a young girl of cover with her hair in pigtails beneath the words "The First Rule of Punk"
The First Rule of Punk: Always Remember to Be Yourself

When we reframe, we perceive others such that they too can be themselves.

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

A communal definition of Autistic ways of being

When we reframe, we stop silencing ourselves and others.

I have loud hands. I must, since I use my hands to communicate. I type what I want to say. But that’s not the only reason why I have loud hands. It is because I finally learned that I cannot be silenced, I will not be silenced.

Loud Hands: I Speak Up With My Fingers
Selling yourself short tames the vision 
How you're depicted can change the sentence

Innocent by Swamburger

If we have learned one thing from the civil rights movement in the U.S., it’s that when others speak for you, you lose.

Ed Roberts

When we reframe, we enable ecologies of care.

Those who are the most sensitive and traumatised and have not lost the ability to extend trust constitute an enormously rich and diverse repository of insights and hold many of the keys needed for co-creating ecologies of care.

Autistic people – The cultural immune system of human societies – YouTube

Reframing purposefully centers the edges.

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 experience in service to all bodyminds.

Creed – Stimpunks Foundation

Because design is tested at the edges, and we are the original life hackers.

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 design from the edges to co-create ecologies of care.

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

Reframing is self-care and social change.

Punk rock is a living thing.

It’s about turning problems into assets.

Don Letts, Rebel Dread

The long-term well-being and empowerment of Autistics and members of other neurocognitive minority groups hinges upon our ability to create a paradigm shift – a shift from the pathology paradigm to the neurodiversity paradigm.

THROW AWAY THE MASTER’S TOOLS: LIBERATING OURSELVES FROM THE PATHOLOGY PARADIGM

🎶🌈 It Take a Joyful Sound: New Wave, New Phrase, Neurodiversity

It take a joyful sound
To make a world go around
Come with your heart and soul
Come on come and rock your boat

“Punks are outcasts from society. So are the Rastas. So they are bound to defend what we defend,” Marley concluded. Shortly thereafter, they began recording the single Punky Reggae Party, and by naming an underground social phenomenon, helped further it.

Culture Clash: Bob Marley, Joe Strummer and the punky reggae party | Reggae | The Guardian
New wave, new phrase
New wave, new craze

It take a joyful sound
To make a world go around
Come with your heart and soul
Come on come and rock your boat
Because it's a punky reggae party
And it's tonight
It's a punky reggae party
And it's alright

Rejected by society
(do re mi fa)
Treated with impunity
(so la te do)
Protected by my dignity
(do re mi fa)
I search for reality
(So La te Do)

--Punky Reggae Party by Bob Marley & The Wailers

New wave, new phrase

New wave, new craze

Neurodiversity

What Neurodiversity Means to Me 

Neurodiversity, to me, means both a fabulous celebration of all kinds of individual minds, and a serious, holistic acknowledgment of the necessity of diversity in order for society to survive, thrive, and innovate. It means identity, belonging, and community. It means I am not broken, not alone, and neither are my siblings standing with me beneath that huge, multi-colored neurodiversity umbrella: we the autistic, the mad, the weirdly-wired, the queer, the crippled, and the labeled with neurodivergent diagnoses like flowers that glorify our beautiful bodies and minds.

Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Frontline
Vector drawing of power wheelchair with a rainbow umbrella attached to it

Neurodiversity is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation.

It take a joyful sound. Reframe.

Rainbow colored abstract art resembling a porous sea sponge
AJ Wool

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

A Thousand Rivers
Abstract fractal art
Julia Mask by AJ Wool

Neurodiversity and Disability Justice, taken together, are indeed celebrations of who we are and how we exist in the world. They are also movements rooted in lived experience, which ask us to understand and engage with the many ways we relate to our bodies and brains, inside our own minds, and in social context.

Autistic Hoya — A blog by Lydia X. Z. Brown: The neurodiversity movements needs its shoes off, and fists up.

This here music mash up the nation

This here music cause a sensation

This here music mash up the nation
This here music cause a sensation
Tell your mamamama, tell your papapapa
Everything's gonna be all right
Can't you feel it? Don't ignore it
Everything is gonna be alright
I said revolution rock

Revolution rock
Yeah so, get that cheese grater going
Against the grains
Wearin' me down
Pressure increase
Everybody!

--Revolution Rock by The Clash

Disability justice (and disability itself) has the potential to fundamentally transform everything we think about quality of life, purpose, work, relationships, belonging.

Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the 21st Century

Learn more about us and how we reframe for care and build niche communities after some art and happy flappy stimmy joy.

Get Happy Flappy

Enjoy some art, music, and stim dancing on the next page.

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