Anxiety: An Opportunity to Support Advocacy and Coping

School can be a stressful experience for many children, neurodivergent and not. Parents and other adults who have been through school themselves at some point may find themselves tempted to respond to anxieties with platitudes meant to reassure the child that things will be ok. Often, however, these reassurances take on more of a gaslighting tendency than a helpful one. When children express their concerns about a new setting – or even an ongoing setting, Read more…

ABA: A Bad Angle for Communication

When ABA was developed, one of its main goals was to make autistic people appear as indistinguishable from non-autistic people as possible through coerced behavioral changes. In many cases today, ABA therapists and families retain that goal. The “Father of ABA,” Ivar Lovaas, has been quoted saying, “you have to put out the fire first before you worry how it started.” This idea is generally regarded as correct in a literal sense, regarding actual fires. Read more…

Supporting Neurodiversity Means Supporting Neurodivergent Leaders

Thirty years ago, the students of Gallaudet University demanded that its newly-selected president resign. She had been the only hearing person among three candidates for the position of president at the nation’s only university designed for Deaf students. The students wondered how a university that claimed to develop Deaf people into leaders could be so lacking in Deaf leadership. Their victory led to the appointment of the university’s first Deaf president, setting a precedent for Read more…

Your Child Deserves Neurodivergent Community

When parents learn that their children are neurodivergent, they are often advised to keep their children away from neurodivergent peers as much as possible. That is horrible advice. Keeping away from neurodivergent peers is only good advice if your goals include reducing a child’s self-esteem and self-understanding. (Although, in that case, “get some less abusive goals” would be even better advice.) Social interaction fills a wide variety of human needs, and it is important for Read more…

Nurturing Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is a fact. People of all kinds of neurotypes inhabit this world. Like all kinds of diversity, neurodiversity means more perspectives, a wider array of strengths, and increased opportunities for mutualistic interdependence. Yet, many interventions and ideologies still blatantly disrespect neurodiversity. Treating neurodiversity as anything less than a fact does not change the fact of neurodiversity., Treating neurodivergent minds as subpar imitations of neurotypical minds does not change the fact of neurodiversity. Forcing neurodivergent Read more…

Universal Design and the Spirit of the ADA

Don’t be fooled by watered-down versions of disability history: the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act was radical. Amidst a world that is designed primarily to suit the convenience of able-bodied, neurotypical people, a law that focused on making it accessible to people with disabilities did not float naturally into the public sphere. Its history is a mosaic of the work of thousands of disabled activists who worked long before its adoption toward rights Read more…

Functioning Labels: A Lost Opportunity

“‘High functioning’ is used to deny support. ‘Low functioning’ is used to deny agency,” points out Autistic activist Ellen Murray. Research shows that in addition to being rather inaccurate in summarizing abilities and needs, stigmas surrounding functioning labels negatively affect the perspectives of many service providers. So why use them, especially when there are better alternatives? To knowingly talk about a person in a way that is both incorrect and harmful says many things about Read more…

Interdependence, A Better Goal

Interdependence, A Better Goal   “Independence” is a widely-used word in the world of disability. If you look at agency titles, IEP goals, and conversations among parents, it would be understandable for you to come away believing that independent is the best thing anyone can be. But is it? Who in this world lives entirely independent of the support of others?   Most of us rely each day on oil we didn’t personally mine, food Read more…

Fidgets: Not Just For Kids

Fidgets and stim toys are a great way to regulate both sensory systems and emotions. They can help a body that needs motion, gain that motion. For anxious bodies, they give a rhythmic or focal point to give order to an otherwise disorganized world. These reasons and more, I highly recommend fidgets for all children. When looking at fidgets, there are important characteristics to look at when deciding which fidget to use. Texture – Each Read more…

What is Executive Functioning?

Executive Functioning is complex and often misunderstood.  Without a firm understanding of what Executive Functioning is, when a student is struggling with executive functioning, parents and professionals may assume the student is unmotivated, careless, resistant to help, etc.  This could not be further from the truth! Children struggling with EF are working very hard to plan and carry out tasks. Executive functioning is one of the five foundations and an area that includes many skills Read more…