“Neurodiversity-Affirming Therapy: Goals and Best Practices”,  is a chronology of the formation of the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective’s framework of neurodiversity-affirming therapy (SLP, OT) practices.

This article links to the first publications of original content, free educational materials, original articles, dozens of neurodiversity-affirming therapy goals, published short essays on social media, and best practices recommendations developed and established by Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP between January 2018 and May 2022 and culminating in the development of the “Neurodiversity-Affirming Conceptual Framework of Social Communication: An Alternative to Social Skills Training for Autistics” © 2019-2022.

April 4, 2022, by Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP, Founder – Therapist Neurodiversity Collective, Inc.
Updated 5/16/2022 (Copyright 2018 – 2022)

History of Therapist Neurodiversity Collective: In the summer of 2017 I formed a private Facebook group called Issues in Ethics, Encroachment, and other Controversial Topics for SLPs.

I launched the group out of sheer desperation after having spent several months espousing trauma-informed practices in other Facebook SLP groups, only to be unceremoniously ejected time and time again, both for bucking conventions of speech-language pathologist social and community standards, and as punishment (negative reinforcement) for my audacity in daring to voice opposition to ABA practices. In this newly formed private group of dissenters, speech-language pathologists and assistants could, without judgment or repercussion, candidly discuss the ethicalities surrounding conscripting non-consenting autistic and other disabled children into ABA treatment, and the gross violations of body autonomy, self-determination, and personal agency that occur during ABA treatment, and the ensuing traumatic aftermath. BCBAs were not permitted to join. Nor were ABA apologists.

Emboldened by this experience, seven months later, on January 11, 2018, I founded Therapist Neurodiversity Collective on Facebook as a practical solution to reaching a wider audience of CCC-SLPs with my education and human rights platform. As of this writing, the Facebook page has over 35k organic followers.

From the day the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective Facebook page went live, my work has involved a campaign of unapologetic activism, laser-focused on affecting an industry-wide sea change for therapy services to center on non-performative, neurodiversity-affirming practices, embedded within the goals and ideals of the neurodiversity social justice and human rights movement.

– Julie

 

10 Neurodiversity-Affirming Therapy Principles to Live by:

Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP

  1. Abandon all ABA and behavioral approaches as they are incompatible with a neurodivergent-affirming therapy practice.
  2. Accept and validate autistic diversity in social intelligence. Autistic people share information with other autistic people as effectively as non-autistic people do. Information sharing can break down when pairs are from different neurotypes – when there is an autistic and a non-autistic person. This is an example of The Double Empathy Problem.

  3.  Advocate for, and train non-autistic people in autistic acceptance.

  4. Seek to understand why an autistic person may be behaving in a manner that garners negative attention, taking into consideration the person’s ability to effectively communicate with spoken language, unmet needs, autistic styles of social communication, autistic play, joint referencing, individual sensory system over or under responsiveness, and barriers in the environment, and then figure out how to change the environment, accommodate sensory needs, remove barriers, and implement practical solutions to help the participant meet whatever needs – physical, social or emotional – that they are not yet able to successfully communicate.

  5. Understand what constitutes neurodiversity-affirming practices vs ableist practices; “therapy vs cure” and be able to identify multiple types of naturally occurring autistic social communication traits and behaviors that, when goals are written with outcomes of change or elimination, equate with a curative or “masking autism” therapeutic approach.***

  6.  Learn about various autistic differences in social communication styles and monotropic interest systems, and recognize these differences are inherent to a person’s autistic identity; reject therapy practices and targets that induce trauma, autistic masking, and camouflage, loss of autonomy, and personal agency ***
    – basically, anything that smacks of autistic conversion treatment. (Amy Sequenzia, 2016)

  7. Completely abandon training autistic people to perform with neurotypical social skills as it trains autistic people to mask and camouflage, leading to poor mental health outcomes, that include exhaustion, anxiety, depression, negative self-perception, low self-esteem, and suicidal ideation. Autistic masking and camouflage inhibit authentic autistic communication.

  8. Replace training neurotypical social skills (training autistic masking) with the “Neurodiversity-Affirming Conceptual Framework of Social Communication: An Alternative to Social Skills Training” (© 2018-2022 – Julie Roberts). Therapy targets focus on communication development, self-advocacy, self-determination, perspective-taking and problem-solving, setting and observing one’s own personal boundaries and observing others, giving and obtaining consent, safety, helpful vs harmful, and “the difference between a friend, friendly and not a friend”, with the understanding that training autism acceptance to family members, educators, and professional peers is vital.

  9. Conduct respectful, empathetic, neurodiversity-affirming assessments and write strength-based reports using identity-first language.

  10. In co-production with participants and familieswrite therapy goals that:
    • Improve the self-determined quality of a client’s life, based on the physical (sensory), emotional and psychological well-being wants and needs of the client, and not on “normalization” or “hiding autism”.
    • Target self-advocacy, self-determination, and personal agency.
    • Target self-determined client objectives that solve problems, meet needs and achieve personal goals.
    • Develop authentic, robust communication in the mode determined by a participant, leading to them meeting their needs, wants, and goals. (With no gate-keeping of ACC).
    • Teach clients they have the right to say no, to protest, and to give or retract consent.
    • Teach participants how to establish and maintain their personal boundaries and respect the boundaries of those around them.
    • Provide “neutral information for navigating social situations”, thereby empowering the participant to interpret social situations and navigate them on their terms. (ASAN, 2021)
    • Lead to insight for both the participant and those around them about neurotypical vs autistic communication differences and preferences, concentrated on an understanding of The Double Empathy Problem and Autistic Acceptance, and without the expectations of autistic masking.
    • Teach what constitutes safe vs unsafe, a “friend, friendly, and non-friend”; and harmful vs helpful.
    • In alignment with The Double Empathy Problem, teach autistic clients and the non-autistic people around them (family members, educators, peers, employers) about diversity in social communication styles. Target perspective-taking in therapy so that your autistic client develops an understanding of the differences between autistic and neurotypical social communication without the expectations of autistic masking and camouflage.

Examples of Ableist Therapy Goals that may lead to Autistic Masking and Camouflage

Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP

  • *** Non medically relevant) Tone of voice modification
  • Neuronormative conversation goals (turn-taking like a ping pong ball, asking social questions about things you have no interest in.)
  • Eliminating stimming behavior, monotropism (focus or attention on a small number of interests in conversation)
  • Topic Maintenance of communication partner’s choosing for so many turn-takes
  • Conveying emotions/feelings ‘appropriately’ by masking or fawning (Fawning – Walker, 2013: People-pleasing” or deferring to the needs and wishes of others, and surrendering one’s own in order to ‘blend’.)
  • Learning and repeating socially-expected ‘rote scripts’ to use in social situations (sometimes can be helpful with self-advocacy)
    Identifying and using appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior (figure out the reason for the behavior and address THAT)
  • Accepting compliments ‘appropriately’
  • Refrain from interrupting others
  • Eliminating echolalia
  • Compliance with acknowledging communication initiated by others by giving ‘appropriate’ responses •Cooperation without complaint in group decisions when the student is not in agreement
  • Forced eye contact
  • Body Language (imitating neuromajority body language through masking)
  • Facial Expressions (imitating neuromajority facial expressions through masking)
  • Active Listening,’ or ‘Whole Body Listening’ (Quiet hands, sitting in the seat without movement, etc.) •Interactive play skills with peers (based on the neuromajority what constitutes ‘play’) rather than true Autistic play, free time, or recreational time
  • Initiating play with peers on the playground (even when solo free time is preferred)
  • Reciprocal play (turn-taking on a peer’s terms)
  • Compliance without complaint
  • Responding to bullying or teasing in an ‘appropriate way’
  • Increasing comfort levels’ in social situations or group activities (Hello? That’s part of Autism. Don’t force masking discomfort.)
  • Tolerating changes (Sensory system is overwhelmed, demonstrating anxiety with unexpected changes in routine, tolerating auditory or physical distress)
  • Tolerating unwanted touch (high five, shaking hands, hugs, kisses, arm around them)
  • Extinguishing ‘problem behaviors’ (Neurodiversity-affirming therapists strive to figure out the reason for a client’s behavior.  Change the environment, change the behavior!)

*** References: Roberts, J. (2018 – 2022)
“Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing (Part 1) Roberts, J. (2020/01/11) Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. https://therapistndc.org/training-social-skills-is-dehumanizing-part-1/
Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals) Roberts, J. (2020/02/15)
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. https://therapistndc.org/why-teach-perspective-taking-neurodiversity-acceptance/
Pragmatic Language/Social Skills Training Tri-fold. Roberts, J. Therapist Neurodiversity Collective (2021/03/30) https://therapistndc.org/pragmatic-language-social-skills-training-tri-fold/
Social Skills Training Guide for Professionals & Carers. Roberts, J. (2021/05/12). Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. https://therapistndc.org/social-skills-training-guide-for-professionals-carers/
Nothing about Social Skills Training is Neurodivergence-Affirming – Absolutely nothing. Roberts, J. (2021/05/27). Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. https://therapistndc.org/nothing-about-social-skills-training-is-neurodivergence-affirming/
On Writing Masking Goals for Autistic Middle School Girls – Stop It! Roberts, J. (2020/08/13) Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. https://therapistndc.org/masking-goals-autistic-middle-school-girls/
So an SLP was late-diagnosed as Autistic this week… Roberts, J. (2021/06/17) Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. https://therapistndc.org/so-an-slp-was-late-diagnosed-as-autistic-this-week/

In-person and online Professional Presentations:
The Neurodiversity Paradigm, a Sea Change in SLP Practice Frameworks. ASHA SIG 14. February 23, 2022.
Social Skills: A Pro-neurodiversity Paradigm. Connecticut Youth Services Association’s 49th Annual Conference. October 22, 2021.
Shifting Therapies towards an empathetic and respectful Neurodiversity Paradigm. Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint. September 23, 2021.
WBAI 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio NYC, “Neurodiversity Experts Talk Interview”. April 16, 2021.
Autism from a Neurodiversity Paradigm. TUCSON Unified School District. February 17, 2021.
Autism from a Neurodiversity Paradigm. Kean University. October 22, 2020.

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective positions that neurodivergent-affirming therapy practices are encompassed within these themes:

Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP

  • Neurodivergent-affirming therapy practices are client-centered and activities are client-led.
  • Neurodivergent-affirming SLPs and OTs are trauma-informed and do not write goals to “normalize” neurodivergent people at the expense of their emotional, physical and psychological well-being. 
  • Ally providers practice with unapologetically ABA-free methods while respecting body autonomy and personal agency. 
  • Neurodivergent-affirming SLPs and OTs understand and work with monotropic interest systems, rather than pathologizing them.
  • Ally providers presume competence, and gain and maintain informed consent, while always acknowledging and honoring the participant’s refusal, protest, and “no”, whether communicated in spoken language or through other means.
  • Ally providers do not have prerequisites for AAC. No gatekeeping AAC access.
  • Ally providers do not engage in seclusion or restraint unless there is a life-threatening event, and then only until such time as the person or persons are no longer in mortal danger. Seclusion nor restraint are never therapeutic.
  • Ally providers seek to understand autistic behavior rather than extinguish or shape it.
  • Neurodivergent-affirming providers do not engage in neurotypical social skills training because of the harmful outcomes and trauma-induced through autistic masking and camouflage. An ally provider recognizes and validates authentic autistic social communication.
  • Ally providers champion human rights and dignity of the disabled, authentic neurodivergent communication, and sensory differences and needs. 
  • Ally providers champion civil rights and social justice for all marginalized peoples, especially those with intersecting identities.
  • Performative neurodiversity trivializes the neurodiversity human rights/social justice campaign, gets in the way of real activism, and distorts the movement’s message and causes.

Social skills training is not a “cure” for autism despite what the ABA and Social Skills Training industries would like us all to believe. All “social skills training’ does is teach autistic people how to mask their autism. And the potential harms of masking (exhaustion, anxiety, depression, frustration, decreased self-esteem suicidal ideation) are significant.” Roberts, J. ‘Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals)’. Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. 2020/02/15

Social Skills Training is a harmful and ableist practice:
In July 2018, Julie Roberts conceptualized the position that clinicians who provide neurotypical social skills training services to autistic people are literally training autistic masking and camouflage, thereby personally contributing to client outcomes of poor mental health. (Roberts, J. 2018/07/19) “Social skills training silences authentic Autistic voices and violates dignity.” (Roberts, J. 2020/02/15). In 2022 this position is 
not commonly accepted by speech-language pathologists and is considered radical by most. 

Since 2018 she has been advocating for SLPs and OTs who identify as “neurodiversity-affirming” providers to abandon the practice of social skills training completely. Roberts holds the position that “Social Skills Training” providers are complicit in the practices of “autistic conversion treatment” (Amy Sequenzia, 2016)

Over the past 5 years, Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP conceptualized evidence-based neurodiversity-affirming therapy proposals through

  1. Reading 400+ and counting curated research studies, articles, and white papers produced and co-produced by autistic researchers, and incorporating findings with
  2. 20+ years of personal speech-language pathology therapy clinical observations, as well as
  3. Autistic lived experiences including my autistic clients’ and students’, and her own.

 

This process culminated in the development of a unique “Neurodiversity-Affirming Conceptual Framework of Social Communication: An Alternative to Social Skills Training for Autistics” (© 2019-2022 – Roberts, J.). centered around:

  • The Double Empathy Problem
  • Diversity in Social Intelligence
  • Autistic Masking and Camouflage

Reader note: My personal activism and radical-in-the-therapy-world authorship are influenced by the work of self-advocacy activists, allies, and researchers, beginning with my original mentors, Julia Bascom and Kieran Rose, and the groundbreaking scholarly work of Dr. Damian Milton.

The concepts and ideas that have helped to shape the Collective’s assertations over the past 5 years about what constitutes neurodivergent-affirming therapy best practices, as well as the Collective’s formal positions and conceptual practice framework for social communication, draw from and expand upon the work of self-advocacy organizations such as The Autistic Self Advocacy NetworkAutistics for Autistics Ontario (A4A), and Better Ways than ABA, as well as activists including Dr. Nick WalkerShain M. NeumeierAnne Borden KingAnn MemmottKristy ForbesFiona ClarkShannon Des Roches RosaJeni CanadayTerra VanceJudy EndowRobert Gehrman Âû, and researchers including Dr. Dinah MurryDr. Brett HeasmanDr. Amy PearsonDr. Noah SassonDr. Catherine CromptonDr. Kristen Bottema-BuetelDr, Gemma L. WilliamsDr, Monique BothaDr, Rebecca Wood, and so many others…

 – Julie Roberts, M.S. CCC-SLP, founder – Therapist Neurodiversity Collective

The following is a chronology of multiple samples of copyrighted original authorship beginning in January 2018, curated from the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective website, the original posted social media content, published articles, and free educational materials.

Between January 2018 and October 2018, Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP established and wrote the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective‘s ethics and values statement. The evolution of this document can be visually tracked through Facebook social media posts at the end of this article. The ethics and values statement has been published on the website since March 2019, when its first pages were published.

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective’s Ethics & Values

  • Members are advocates for Disability Rights and Civil Rights
  • Members are advocates for equitable inclusion, and unrestricted access to supports, modifications, and accommodations
  • Members use ethical billing practices in all settings
  • Members adhere to ethical sales of therapy/parent materials/apps/programs
  • Members provide therapeutic programs that are respectful of neurodivergence, such as autistic differences and sensory processing differences, and address the individual’s specific needs as opposed to a diagnostic label
  • Members practice with a presumption of competence and respect for personal agency
  • Members apply a Strength-Based Approach
  • Members are unapologetic in their opposition to the use of ABA, including Positive Supports and Positive Reinforcement (PBS and PBIS)
  • Members use humane and trauma-informed approaches to Feeding Therapy
  • Members provide access to robust AAC with core language, aided language stimulation, and modeling with no prerequisites
  • Members respect Body Autonomy
  • Members do not use Seclusion and Restraint in our Practices
  • Members do not act as Social Skills Trainers/Interventionists
  • Members practice with cognizance of the potentially harmful effects of social skills programs that promote masking
  • Honor and uphold the dignity and humanity of every client, student and patient we serve

 

In 2021 the following bullet point was added:

  • Members will use no application of Exposure Therapy (any form of “tolerance” or “extinction”, in Vivo and Flooding, Imaginal), that potentially induces emotional distress, trauma, and PTSD. This includes ERP, DPT, sensory system desensitization, or any type of operative conditioning or respondent conditioning (behavior modification through conditioning)

March 16, 2019 – April 2022: Chronology of page publication dates for Therapist Neurodiversity Collective’s website

The website is designed to inform visitors about neurodivergent-affirming therapy practices, provide specific therapy recommendations and examples, list disability justice, social justice, and neurodiversity rights and positions, offer free downloadable, printable educational resources, and link to additional neurodiversity education sources.

2019 – April 2022:
Original articles:

  • Detail ableist therapy practices
  • Propose neurodiversity-affirming therapy alternatives, with sample goals
  • Propose a neurodiversity-affirming conceptual practice framework 
  • Explain the harms of social skills training due to the risks of autistic masking and camouflage

 

An ASHA Certified SLP’s Personal Perspective on Collaboration, Interprofessional Practice and ABA – 2019/11/10

A Letter from an SLP to a Parent, Immediately After an Autism Diagnosis for a 5-Year-Old – 2019/11/15

“Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing (Part 1) – 2020/01/11

The Problem with PECS® – 2020/02/04

Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals) – 2020/02/15
“Finding the Right Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) For Your Autistic Child” – Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
Roberts, J. A. (2020, May 14). Finding the right speech-language pathologist (SLP) for your autistic child. Finding the Right Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) For Your Autistic Child. Retrieved June 15, 2020, from http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2020/05/finding-right-speech-language.html

On Writing Masking Goals for Autistic Middle School Girls – Stop It! – 2020/08/13

Why We Model Language and Honor All Communication, instead of Using PECS® – 2021/01/13

Pragmatic Language/Social Skills Training Tri-fold – 2021/03/30

Social Skills Training Guide for Professionals & Carers – 2021/05/12

Nothing about Social Skills Training is Neurodivergence-Affirming – Absolutely nothing. – 2021/05/27

So an SLP was late-diagnosed as Autistic this week… – 2021/06/17

Performative Neurodiversity – the appropriation and watering down of a Human Rights Movement for profit – 2021/10/02

Neurodiversity and Autism Intervention (ABA) can’t be reconciled – 2021/11/05

Original Work: Roberts, J. “Performative Neurodiversity – the appropriation and watering down of a Human Rights Movement for profit”. (Oct. 2, 2021). Therapist Neurodiversity Collective.
https://therapistndc.org/performative-neurodiversity-the-appropriation-and-watering-down-of-a-human-rights-movement-for-profit/

“Performative Neurodiversity – the appropriation and watering down of a Human Rights Movement for profit”, further evolves the term “Neurodiversity-Lite***” to incorporate the concept of licensed, credentialed therapy providers appropriating and commercializing a human rights movement, weakening the movement’s goals for service provisions, and then falsely marketing their services, educational events, and products as neurodiversity-affirming.

References:
*** Neumeier, S. “To Siri With Love’ and the Problem With Neurodiversity Lite”. Rewire News Group. (Feb 9, 2018) https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2018/02/09/siri-love-problem-neurodiversity-lite/

den Houting J. Neurodiversity: An insider’s perspective. Autism. 2019;23(2):271-273. doi:10.1177/1362361318820762 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1362361318820762

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. (June 22, 2021)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5764103886996387

Critical Neurodiversity. “Simon Baron-Cohen, Neurodiversity-lite, and the History of Eugenic Thought”. (Sept. 5, 2021). https://criticalneurodiversity.com/2021/09/05/why-are-cambridge-men-so-great-simon-baron-cohen-neurodiversity-lite-and-the-history-of-eugenic-thought/

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. (September 13, 2021)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6179864322087006

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. (September 26, 2021)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6251280228278748

August 2020 – April 2022: Chronology of publicly proposed neurodiversity-affirming therapy ideas surrounding the connection between social skills training and masking, best neurodivergent-affirming practices for assessment, and goal writing in professional presentations to therapist groups and to the public, both in-person and online. Each presentation’s slides express original ideas, citations of the supporting research, and recommendations for neurodivergent-affirming therapy practices.

8 Signs of a Respectful Therapist: 2020/08/30
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. 8 Signs of a Respectful Therapist –  First version. Facebook. 2020/04/03
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3755257324547730/

Ableism: 2020/09/01
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. – First version. “Ableism is entrenched in the presumption that neurodivergent and/or disabled people are “broken” and need to be “fixed.” Ableism presumes that the non-disabled and/or neuro majority are superior or elite forms of human beings, and because of that neurodivergent populations and others with disabilities should aspire to be like them, and receive therapy to imitate them. Facebook. (impressions 44,225) 2020/8/27 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/4373447882728668

Version one of “We don’t Treat Autism”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/2144157435657735/: 2019/07/19
We don’t treat Autism: 09/01/2020
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/4403985636341559/: 2020/09/01
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5058017960938320 :2021/01/05 (26,958 impressions)

https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5652587218148055: 2021/05/21 (20,002 impressions)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5695556310517812: 2021/06/06

Perspective-Taking (this version) 2020/08/30
First proposed: December 3, 2019: https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3362479793825487
“This is why I write therapy goals for “perspective-taking,” rather than “social skills.” Then the autistic student may choose how they wish to self-express.”

First version: April 11, 2020:
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3768595993213863/
First proposed in this article: 2020/02/15 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3592449177495213
“Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals) So, what does the Speech-Language Pathologist target instead of “social skills training?” EXAMPLES of PERSPECTIVE-TAKING SPEECH THERAPY GOALS IN ARTICLE: “

Self-advocacy (this version) 2020/08/30
First version: 2020/04/06 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3768232513250211/

We don’t train social skills: 2020/08/30
First version: (impressions 72,163) 2020/08/30 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/4390821570991299

ADHD & RSD: 2020/09/02

IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Children: 2020/09/05
IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Children Part 2: 2020/09/10

Heteronomy & Self-Determination: 2020/09/18
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/4484849381588517

Terms Therapists Should Know: 2020/09/29

Parent’s Guide to ABA: 2020/10/01

How to Be an Ableist Therapist: 2020/10/04

Eye contact goals: 2020/10/06

ABA Therapy in Skilled Nursing Homes: 2020/10/07

The Double Empathy Problem: 2020/10/09

Consumer Beware: 2020/10/12

Contrasting Therapy Approaches: 2020/10/14

Social Skills Training & the Research: 2020/10/16

Diversity in Social Intelligence: 2020/10/20

Learn Neurodiversity Terminology: 2020/10/23

Shocking Pro-Neurodiversity Therapy Practices: 2020/10/27

Setting Boundaries: 2020/11/03

Beware of these Buzz Phrases: 2020/12/30

SLP vs BCBA: 2021/01/06
First version: 2019/09/19
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3156252511114884

Neurodivergent-affirming, respectful & empathetic practices: 2021/04/14
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/a.1849458958460919/5433683713371741/

Explicit and Implicit Biases Toward Autism: 2021/01/22

A Conceptual Analysis of Autistic Masking_ Understanding the Narrative of Stigma and the Illusion of Choice: 2021/01/23

Social Cognition, Social Skill, and Social Motivation Minimally Predict Social Interaction Outcomes for Autistic and Non-Autistic Adults: 2021/02/02

ABA has not changed: 2021/02/26

Operant Conditioning is for Rats: 2021/03/12
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5269920879748026

You might be an ableist therapist if: 2021/04/28

Ableist Therapy vs Respectful Therapy – Which kind of therapist are YOU?: 2021/06/09
https://facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5681543121919131

8 Signs of a Respectful Therapist: 2020/08/30
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. 8 Signs of a Respectful Therapist –  First version. Facebook. 2020/04/03
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3755257324547730/

Ableism: 2020/09/01
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. – First version. “Ableism is entrenched in the presumption that neurodivergent and/or disabled people are “broken” and need to be “fixed.” Ableism presumes that the non-disabled and/or neuro majority are superior or elite forms of human beings, and because of that neurodivergent populations and others with disabilities should aspire to be like them, and receive therapy to imitate them. Facebook. (impressions 44,225) 2020/8/27 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/4373447882728668

The first version of “We don’t Treat Autism”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/2144157435657735/:: 2019/07/19
We don’t treat Autism: 09/01/2020
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/4403985636341559/: 2020/09/01
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5058017960938320 2021/01/05 (26,958 impressions)

https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5652587218148055: 2021/05/21 (20,002 impressions)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5695556310517812: 2021/06/06

Perspective-Taking (this version) 2020/08/30
First discussed: December 3, 2019: https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3362479793825487
“This is why I write therapy goals for “perspective-taking,” rather than “social skills.” Then the autistic student may choose how they wish to self-express.”
First version: April 11, 2020:
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3768595993213863/
First mentioned in this article: 2020/02/15 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3592449177495213
“Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals) So, what does the Speech-Language Pathologist target instead of “social skills training?” EXAMPLES of PERSPECTIVE-TAKING SPEECH THERAPY GOALS IN ARTICLE: “

Self-advocacy (this version) 2020/08/30
First version: 2020/04/06 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3768232513250211/

We don’t train social skills: 2020/08/30
First version: (impressions 72,163) 2020/08/30 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/4390821570991299

ADHD & RSD: 2020/09/02

IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Children: 2020/09/05
IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Children Part 2: 2020/09/10

Heteronomy & Self-Determination: 2020/09/18
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/4484849381588517

Terms Therapists Should Know: 2020/09/29

Parent’s Guide to ABA: 2020/10/01

How to Be an Ableist Therapist: 2020/10/04

Eye contact goals: 2020/10/06

ABA Therapy in Skilled Nursing Homes: 2020/10/07

The Double Empathy Problem: 2020/10/09

Consumer Beware: 2020/10/12

Contrasting Therapy Approaches: 2020/10/14

Social Skills Training & the Research: 2020/10/16

Diversity in Social Intelligence: 2020/10/20

Learn Neurodiversity Terminology: 2020/10/23

Shocking Pro-Neurodiversity Therapy Practices: 2020/10/27

Setting Boundaries: 2020/11/03

Beware of these Buzz Phrases: 2020/12/30

SLP vs BCBA: 2021/01/06
First version: 2019/09/19
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3156252511114884

Neurodivergent-affirming, respectful & empathetic practices: 2021/04/14
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/a.1849458958460919/5433683713371741/

Explicit and Implicit Biases Toward Autism: 2021/01/22

A Conceptual Analysis of Autistic Masking_ Understanding the Narrative of Stigma and the Illusion of Choice: 2021/01/23

Social Cognition, Social Skill, and Social Motivation Minimally Predict Social Interaction Outcomes for Autistic and Non-Autistic Adults: 2021/02/02

ABA has not changed: 2021/02/26

Operant Conditioning is for Rats: 2021/03/12
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5269920879748026

You might be an ableist therapist if: 2021/04/28

Ableist Therapy vs Respectful Therapy – Which kind of therapist are YOU?: 2021/06/09
https://facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5681543121919131

Change the environment: 2021/09/16
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6195117480561690

Dehumanizing Behavior is Inhumane: 2021/09/20
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6218046094935495

Neurodiversity is not a marketing campaign (with dozens of resources): 2021/09/17
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6200198090053629

Montropism: 2021/05/23
First published: 2021/05/21
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5613700442036733

But it’s not ABA! (Yes it is, Therapist. Yes it is): 2021/11/10
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6490976670975768

8 Signs of a Respectful Therapist: 2020/08/30
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. 8 Signs of a Respectful Therapist –  First version. Facebook. 2020/04/03
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3755257324547730/

Ableism: 2020/09/01
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. – First version. “Ableism is entrenched in the presumption that neurodivergent and/or disabled people are “broken” and need to be “fixed.” Ableism presumes that the non-disabled and/or neuro majority are superior or elite forms of human beings, and because of that neurodivergent populations and others with disabilities should aspire to be like them, and receive therapy to imitate them. Facebook. (impressions 44,225) 2020/8/27 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/4373447882728668

The first version of “We don’t Treat Autism”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/2144157435657735/:: 2019/07/19
We don’t treat Autism: 09/01/2020
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/4403985636341559/: 2020/09/01
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5058017960938320 2021/01/05 (26,958 impressions)

https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5652587218148055: 2021/05/21 (20,002 impressions)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5695556310517812: 2021/06/06

Perspective-Taking (this version) 2020/08/30
First discussed: December 3, 2019: https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3362479793825487
“This is why I write therapy goals for “perspective-taking,” rather than “social skills.” Then the autistic student may choose how they wish to self-express.”
First version: April 11, 2020:
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3768595993213863/
First mentioned in this article: 2020/02/15 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3592449177495213
“Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals) So, what does the Speech-Language Pathologist target instead of “social skills training?” EXAMPLES of PERSPECTIVE-TAKING SPEECH THERAPY GOALS IN ARTICLE: “

Self-advocacy (this version) 2020/08/30
First version: 2020/04/06 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/3768232513250211/

We don’t train social skills: 2020/08/30
First version: (impressions 72,163) 2020/08/30 https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/4390821570991299

ADHD & RSD: 2020/09/02

IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Children: 2020/09/05
IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Children Part 2: 2020/09/10

Heteronomy & Self-Determination: 2020/09/18
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/4484849381588517

Terms Therapists Should Know: 2020/09/29

Parent’s Guide to ABA: 2020/10/01

How to Be an Ableist Therapist: 2020/10/04

Eye contact goals: 2020/10/06

ABA Therapy in Skilled Nursing Homes: 2020/10/07

The Double Empathy Problem: 2020/10/09

Consumer Beware: 2020/10/12

Contrasting Therapy Approaches: 2020/10/14

Social Skills Training & the Research: 2020/10/16

Diversity in Social Intelligence: 2020/10/20

Learn Neurodiversity Terminology: 2020/10/23

Shocking Pro-Neurodiversity Therapy Practices: 2020/10/27

Setting Boundaries: 2020/11/03

Beware of these Buzz Phrases: 2020/12/30

SLP vs BCBA: 2021/01/06
First version: 2019/09/19
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3156252511114884

Neurodivergent-affirming, respectful & empathetic practices: 2021/04/14
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/photos/a.1849458958460919/5433683713371741/

Explicit and Implicit Biases Toward Autism: 2021/01/22

A Conceptual Analysis of Autistic Masking_ Understanding the Narrative of Stigma and the Illusion of Choice: 2021/01/23

Social Cognition, Social Skill, and Social Motivation Minimally Predict Social Interaction Outcomes for Autistic and Non-Autistic Adults: 2021/02/02

ABA has not changed: 2021/02/26

Operant Conditioning is for Rats: 2021/03/12
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5269920879748026

You might be an ableist therapist if: 2021/04/28

Ableist Therapy vs Respectful Therapy – Which kind of therapist are YOU?: 2021/06/09
https://facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5681543121919131

Change the environment: 2021/09/16
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6195117480561690

Dehumanizing Behavior is Inhumane: 2021/09/20
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6218046094935495

Neurodiversity is not a marketing campaign (with dozens of resources): 2021/09/17
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6200198090053629

Montropism: 2021/05/23
First published: 2021/05/21
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5613700442036733

But it’s not ABA! (Yes it is, Therapist. Yes it is): 2021/11/10
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6490976670975768

Neurodiversity Affirming or Neurodiversity Lite?: 2021/12/23

There’s no normal child hidden behind the autism: 2020/01/31 (26,287 impressions, 2003 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/7018216181585145

Chronology - Neurodivergent-Affirming vs Ableist Comparisons, Original Goals, Original Target Recommendations, and Explanations: Roberts, J. (2020 – 2022)

“Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing (Part 1)
Roberts, J. (2020/01/11) Therapist Neurodiversity Collective.

“Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing (Part 1)

 

“Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing (Part 1)

Dehumanizing Social Skills Training – “how to make friends”

  • Modeling (masking autistic characteristics)
  • Differential Reinforcement (reinforcing only the desired response or behavior, and applying extinction to all other responses)
  • Memorizing rote verbal or behavioral scripts for social scenarios.
  • Role Playing (rehearsing rote verbal scripts)
  • Behavioral scripts that compel compliance.
  • Specific Social Skills Curriculum that predetermines rote expression”
    – Julie Roberts 2020/01/11

 

“The end goal of ABA is to make the Autistic person appear indistinguishable from their peers. As there is no “cure” for Autism, the only way to do this is for Autistic people to camouflage or compensate for their autistic differences through masking, which can lead to negative consequences such as exhaustion, anxiety, depression, negative self-perception, low self-esteem, and even suicidal ideation.”
– Julie Roberts, 2020/01/11

“…don’t “train” social skills. We believe that social skills training is one more way of dehumanizing Autism. Dictating how a neurodivergent person is expected to communicate in specific social situations takes away their self-determination.”
– Julie Roberts, 2020/01/11

“…believes in respecting the authentic social communication of all people, rather than compelling compliance for neurotypical expectations through a system of rewards and punishments.
– Julie Roberts, 2020/01/11

“We teach perspective-taking. We empower through teaching self-advocacy and encouraging self-determination.”
– Julie Roberts, 2020/01/11

“supports the emotional well-being and sensory needs of our clients, first and foremost. “
“social interaction can be exhausting for autistic people…  especially if they are being pressured to imitate neurotypical mannerisms and mask their autistic behaviors, mannerisms, and feelings.”
” don’t “train” social skills, nor do we “treat Autism.”
– Julie Roberts, 2020/01/11

Examples of Pro-Neurodiversity Objectives:

  • Self-Advocacy
  • Perspective Taking: Self and Others
  • Interoception for: Self-Regulation, Self-Awareness, Flexibility of Thought, Intuition, Perspective Taking, Problem Solving, Social Understanding
  • Teaching how one’s body sensations  correlate to emotions
  • Figurative Language: Metaphors, Similes, Personification, Hyperbole, Symbolism
  • Building upon strengths”
    – Julie Roberts 2020/01/11

 

Examples of Ableist Objectives:

  • “Treating Autism
  • Eye Contact with Communication Partner
  • Quiet Hands and Whole Body Listening
  • Extinguishing perceived neurodivergent social deficits
  • Teaching social scripting that encourages masking (feelings, emotions, stimming, sensory needs, quiet hands, compliance for rehearsed role-play, etc.) “Social Stories*” that are written and used in a manner that is meant to compel compliance
  • Social skills goals that focus on making the client appear indistinguishable from their neurotypical peers”
    – Julie Roberts 2020/01/11

 

“… strive to further the cause of Autism Acceptance by educating the public, our professional peers, and especially our client families, while promoting “acceptance and inclusion and changing the dialogue about autism from fear, pity, and tragedy to support, acceptance, and empowerment.”
– Julie Roberts 2020/01/11

Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals)
Roberts, J.
(2020/02/15)
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective.

Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals)

Note: The therapy goals are never about compelling verbal or behavioral compliance. Individual goals are written with the intent to empower each student:

  • With the ability to self-determine their communication choices,
  • To be able to successfully describe their perception of events and situations,
  • To describe the possible motivations and perceptions of others, and
  • To understand how their communication choices, both speaking and behavioral may be perceived by those around them.
    – Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

Examples of Ableist Objectives:

  • Treating Autism
  • Forced Eye Contact with Communication Partner
  • Quiet Hands and Whole-Body Listening
  • Extinguishing perceived neurodivergent social deficits, including dictating how free time is to be spent
  • Teaching social scripting that encourages masking (feelings, emotions, stimming, sensory needs, quiet hands, compliance for rehearsed role-play, etc.) “Social Stories” that are written and used in a manner that is meant to compel compliance with the story script
  • Social skills goals that focus on making the client appear indistinguishable from their neurotypical peers
    – Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

 

BOUNDARIES AND CONSENT
“…talk about boundaries and his right to personal autonomy, including body-autonomy. “
– Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

 

Ableist Objectives

  • “Eye contact,
  • Using appropriate body language,
  • Behavior compliance with social stories,
  • Compliance to adhere to verbal social scripts for things like making friends, asking to join in (because that always works – insert sarcasm and eye-roll here),
  • and here are my two favorites: “Will interact with peers appropriately,” during unstructured play (recess, choice time),
  • “Will play appropriately during unstructured recess (participate, share, follow directions/rules, take turns) with 1-2 peers for 10 minutes” (because if you are an Autistic student in the public education setting, your “unstructured” recess or free time is never really unstructured.)
    – Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

 

Social skills training is not a “cure” for autism despite what the ABA industry would like for us all to believe. All “social skills training’ does is to teach autistic people how to mask their autism. And the potential harms of masking (exhaustion, anxiety, depression, frustration, decreased self-esteem suicidal ideation) are significant”.
– Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

 

What to target instead of “social skills training/Autistic Masking:
– it may, therefore, be equally important to educate others to be more aware and accepting of social presentation differences
– perspective-taking
– targeting awareness and acceptance among peers in their social environments
– teaching children and teens to understand how and why neurotypical peers and adults act the way they do in various settings and situations.
– teaching consenting Autistic people (old enough to determine their personal “social skills” goals, and old enough to understand potentially harmful aspects of masking) neurotypical socially expected norms... students/clients to self-determine if, or in which specific situations, they will choose to apply this knowledge.
– Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

 

FIGURE OUT THE REASON(S) FOR THE BEHAVIOR AND HELP THEM SOLVE A PROBLEM OR MEET A NEED:
Rather than writing therapy goals targeting masking or reducing “behaviors” I aim to write therapy goals which are empathetic, meaning that I seek to understand why a particular student may be behaving in a manner which is drawing negative attention from either their peers or instructors and then figure out how to help them meet whatever need (behind the behavior) that they are not yet able to successfully communicate.
– Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

– number one job is to make sure my students have the supports, modifications, accommodations, and tools they need
– empower them to learn to communicate as independently and effectively as they are able – and on their own terms… learn to “self-advocate with confidence”.
– “Social skills training” silences authentic Autistic voices and violates dignity.
– Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

 

Examples of Perspective-Taking Therapy Goals:
After watching a video or listening to a passage, the student will demonstrate perspective-taking skills by indicating which verbal response or pragmatic language application might be expected to produce: a) negative feedback b) positive feedback from a communication partner.

After watching a video or listening to a passage, the student will demonstrate perspective-taking skills by indicating which pragmatic action (such as speaking over someone else, or interrupting, or answering for someone else) might be expected to produce:
a) negative feedback
b) positive feedback from a communication partner

 

BOUNDARIES AND CONSENT
(For an empathetic student who has perspective-taking skills, but does not understand how to convey empathy) In a contextual situation, after being reminded to observe personal bubbles of space through an inconspicuous gesture pre-taught to the student, he will convey the message he was trying to state through his behavior: “I care.” “I like you.” I am concerned about you.” “I want to comfort you.” “You are my friend.”

Student will
a) Label the emotions of others and his own in a contextual situation, and
b) use the labels in a social exchange rather than getting too physically close or touching someone without their permission. (Example, instead of touching someone’s face to convey that he feels compassion when they demonstrate sadness, he can say ” I see you are sad, upset, etc. and I am here to listen. “

 

BOUNDARIES AND CONSENT
Student will
a) independently explain “why” an unexpected behavior (getting too close, touching peer, grabbing peer, etc.) was “unexpected” or may make someone feel/express a negative emotion, and
b) state what he could do instead to communicate his message to that person (I care, I like you, I feel bad that you are upset, etc.)

After watching a video or listening to a passage with visual support, the student will predict or anticipate the reaction of the character independently, using emotional words to describe.

After watching a video or listening to a passage with visual support, the student will:
a) Describe possible motives that a character has for certain actions.
b) State whether or not he would have made the same decision in that situation; and if not,
c)  State how he would have responded instead.

The student will generate possible outcomes to a social situation or problem, and determine:
1) Which outcome would be most positively received for the situation, and
2)Why

The student will develop insight regarding others’ perspectives, as well as his own, as presented in videos, visual materials (photos, pictures) or in orally presented or read literature, by:
a) inferring why a particular person may say, feel or do the things they do in a presented particular situation.
b) identifying and expressing what he might say, feel or do in a similar situation.

When presented with videos, visual materials (photos, pictures) or orally presented or read literature, the student will demonstrate increased knowledge of the labels of emotions or feelings and the corresponding physical feelings that may be associated with them.
1) Label various emotions and feelings when presented with a corresponding picture
2) After listening to a passage or watching a video, recognize the person’s or character’s feelings and label them.
    a) Put himself in the other’s shoes to imagine how they might be feeling (physical sensations and emotions)
    b) Imagine and describe what type of response might make the person (or himself) feel better or worse.

When provided with hypothetical difficult social situations as encountered in role-playing with speech services, in videos, movies, short stories, and literature sources, the student will:
1) Identify the social problem (breakdown in communication, misunderstanding, disagreement, etc.)
2) Generating a communication response to solve the problem which would be socially acceptable to most audiences, without sacrificing self-determination and self-advocacy. (A socially acceptable solution could include not engaging at all until the student is in a self-regulated state.

The student will demonstrate insight regarding others’ perspectives of a social situation, whether encountered within peer/peer or peer/instructor interactions or as presented in visual materials or in orally presented literature, by:
a) inferring why a particular person may say, feel or do the things they do in movies, videos, short stories, and other literary sources.
b) relaying his personal perspective on the same social situation, and state why.

The student will communicate with a peer through the use of AAC rather than physically touching a peer (Communicate “Sad” rather than touching a crying peer’s face).

The student will develop an understanding of the relationship between his verbalizations and their effect on others by:
a) Describing his reasons for the verbalization.
b) Describing the person on the receiving end’s possible perspectives of the student’s verbalizations.
c) Deciding whether or not he is satisfied with his choice of communication (self-determined).
d) If he is not satisfied, describe other options he has for communicating his feelings.

 

The student will develop an understanding of the neurotypical rationale for various expected social skills by stating the reason when asked (i.e. Why do we say excuse me?)
– Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

“The true lesson of training social skills (“compliance training”) teaches our students that unless they learn to successfully mask their autistic traits, they are inherently less valuable members of the human race. Social skills training communicates conditional acceptance based on the conditions that non-autistic people determine. It’s not fair or ethical. SLPS: Stop training social skills. Set your Autistic students free from compliance training and let them be themselves”.
– Julie Roberts 2020/02/15

On Writing Masking Goals for Autistic Middle School Girls – Stop It!
Roberts, J. (2020/08/13)
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective.

On Writing Masking Goals for Autistic Middle School Girls – Stop It!

We are licensed, credentialed ableists, therapizing our autistic students to learn to be in a constant state of masking in order to be acceptable, to be worthy, to be liked.

“They hide their feelings behind their masks at the expense of their emotional well-being to please therapists, teachers, parents and peers, all while ignoring their authentic communication instincts while essentially attempting to change the entire essence of who they are into someone else entirely, in order to “blend,” to appear “cured” and to be accepted their instructors and their peers.”

Our girls are struggling to be “good girls,” to meet the unrealistic and often unspoken definitions of what it means to be “popular” or even liked.  It’s exhausting – mentally, emotionally, and physically. And it’s taking a toll.
– Julie Roberts 2020/08/13

“My personal experiences have shaped and continue to shape my therapy practices because I don’t ever want my students to go throughout their lives constantly second-guessing themselves as I have done and continue to do.”
– “(Because when you are autistic, your free time is never really “free”.)”
– “Therapists and educators expect Autistic girls to mimic non-autistic socially expected behavior at all times… when you are autistic, your peer’s choices of topic take precedence over your own.:
– (Masking goals) ” set up autistic middle school girls for future manipulation, exploitation, and abuse:”

– Julie Roberts 2020/08/13

Goals that Train Masking:
“Under the following conditions: when presented with hypothetical situations or when available specific examples of problematic/inappropriate social interactions that were reported by an adult or peer, the student will independently recreate the problem through role-play and end the experience with a better outcome.”

“Under the following conditions: when given scenarios of social conflicts, the student will independently demonstrate problem-solving skills by
a) identifying the problem and then
b) generating at least one socially appropriate solution/response.”

“During unstructured recreational or free periods, the student will interact with peers in an appropriate manner through maintaining personal space and a respectful voice.”

“During unstructured free time, the student will play/participate/share/follow directions/rules/take turns with one or two peers for a set amount of time.”

“During unstructured free time or during electives, the student will initiate and begin a back and forth conversational exchange on a topic of a peer’s choosing (for example, greeting and asking previously rehearsed questions learned during role-play) for 5 minutes.”

“The student will appropriately acknowledge an interaction initiated by others by giving an appropriate response, either verbal or non-verbal.”

“Will cooperate with group decisions in which the student is not in agreement.”
– Julie Roberts 2020/08/13

do a better job of educating our instructional peers on what autism is from a neurodiversity framework.”
writing therapy goals for “curing autism” and masking does not actually make autism “go away.”
 – Julie Roberts 2020/08/13

Goals that attempt to “normalize” autistic students:

  • Eye contact
  • Masking
  • Social communication differences
  • Stimming
  • Rote role-playing and social scripting
  • Ignoring sensory distress
  • Outright compliance for compliance’s sake
    – Julie Roberts 2020/08/13

Instead of training social skills: BOUNDARIES AND CONSENT

  • Building self-esteem and promoting independence
  • Teaching the differences in social communication styles between autistic and non-autistic people, and validating both
  • Teaching self-advocacy skills, both in social situations and for access to supports and accommodations to which they are entitled by the IEP
  • Teaching our autistic students that they have control over their own bodies, including their eyes and their stims
  • Empowering our autistic girls to say “no”
  • Teaching an understanding and application of social, physical and emotional boundaries
  • Teaching perspective-taking – not just other’s perspectives, but their own, as well – and that all perspectives have validity, including their own
  • Teaching the physical sensations associated with anxiety and how to monitor and address (rather than suppress)
  • Identifying emotions and the associated vocabulary in order to develop self-awareness and other-awareness
    – Julie Roberts 2020/08/13

2020/08/13 – Goals to target instead of training Autistic Masking:

BOUNDARIES AND CONSENT
The student will describe what personal boundaries may look like when they do not conflict with her boundaries or others (such as what kinds of information to share with other people, phone, physical touching, friendships, peer pressure to do things that are against the rules, morally or ethically wrong, or harmful):
a) Describe her own personal boundaries (physical and emotional)
b) Describe what other’s boundaries may look like

SELF ADVOCACY
The student will demonstrate measurable progress with self-advocacy and expressive language by
a) Asking for help when she is struggling with materials or lectures
b) Requesting modifications and accommodations to which she is entitled. (Give them a copy of their IEP with the modifications, accommodations and supports listed in it.)

Student will describe
a) various emotions with newly learned vocabulary, and
b) describe some physical associations that may be associated with those emotions.

After watching a video or listening to a passage student will
a) predict or anticipate the reaction of the character independently, using emotion words to describe, and
b) state how she might feel in a similar situation, and
c state how she might react or what she might say in a similar situation and why.

BOUNDARIES AND CONSENT
When provided with hypothetical difficult social situations as encountered in role-playing with speech services, in videos, movies, short stories, and literature sources, Student will:
a) Identify the social problem (breakdown in communication, misunderstanding, disagreement, etc.)
b) Generate a communication response to solve the problem which would be socially acceptable to most audiences, without sacrificing self-determination and self-advocacy. (A socially acceptable solution could include not engaging at all until the student is in a self-regulated state.)

BOUNDARIES AND CONSENT
The student will generate possible outcomes to a social situation or problem and consider:
a) which outcome may be most positively received for the situation, and state why.
b) which outcome may be most negatively received for the situation, and state why.
c) certain situations when generating a negatively received outcome might be appropriate anyway (turning down a dance, a date, compliance with something that makes her feel uncomfortable or unsafe).

The student will demonstrate measurable progress with independent self-advocacy, including independently:
1) Asking for help when he is struggling with materials or lectures
2) Requesting modifications and accommodations to which he is entitled
2) Asking for clarification when he does not understand directions
3) Requesting break when overwhelmed or not able to self-regulate

After watching a video or listening to a passage, the student will make a prediction of what may happen next by:
a) inferring why a particular person said, felt, or did in the movie clip, video, short story, or another literary source.
b) making a logical prediction of what they might do next and state why (based on previous actions)
c) relaying his personal perspective on the same situation, and then state would he might do, and why.

Hold my beer!
Roberts, J
First posteds on Facebook –  2020/03/10.

Link to 2020/08/15 version:
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/4296167910456666

Advocate for your students!
HERE, HOLD MY BEER!

Counseling as a related service IEP goals…
(Autistic) student ” will maintain a topic of conversation of the peer’s choosing for at least 5 conversational turns .”
(Autistic) Student “will increase his comfort level in working with groups in class to complete group assignments.

“Speech-Language Pathologist:
Hold my beer…
“In order to self-advocate with instructors, and as needed with others, Student will:
1) Independently describe his learning difference/learning style
2) Communicate to others how he learns best
3) Describe supports needed in his academic setting, and ask for them when necessary in the classroom
4) Describe why differences do not necessarily need to be masked. (ie: Can participate and cooperate in a group adequately to complete a project, but does not have to “like” it; May prefer solitary free-time or free-time with specific people and activities and does not have to have his free-time predetermined by others in order to “blend in” or mask autistic traits if the differences do not interfere with learning in his educational environment.)”

IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Children:

Roberts, J.  2020/09/05

https://www.facebook.com/
NeurodiversityCollective/
posts/4420349161371873

Before an IEP goal is accepted, determine if all possible supports, modifications, and accommodations have been exhausted (and are implemented and actually being used).

Then consider which of the two, either A or B, the IEP addresses:

A) Access to education, communication access/AAC, language development for educational purposes, functional ability, fine/gross motor skills, self-determination, self-advocacy, equitable access?
B) Correcting or masking Autistic ‘deficits’ (differences) as compared with neuromajority peers?

DEFICIT/PATHOLOGY MODEL
During unstructured free time or playtime or recess:
1) After a teacher models a request for play initiation, and prompts the child to verbally repeat it, the child will repeat the demonstrated request 2 times within a 20-minute play session.
2) Student will play (participate, share, follow
directions/rules, take turns during free time or recess) with 1-2 peers for 10 minutes.
EYE CONTACT goal of any kind.
Stopping/Reducing Stimming
Stopping/Reducing Echolalia

Using Deprivation Reinforcement, (only having access to desired foods, objects or activity when therapist allows), and hand over hand prompting, and/or prompting from second adult from behind child:

Child will express desire for food using PECS®/signs/words.
Child will express desire for activity using PECS®/signs/words.
Child will express desire for toy/object using PECS®/signs/words
(Source: The Problem with PECS® by Therapist Neurodiversity Collective.
https://therapistndc.org/the-problem-with-pecs/)

Given a verbal instruction, student will look at the person, say “okay,” and do it right away in 4/5 incidents.
Using positive reinforcement, Learner will watch various video clips that model desired (neurotypical) social skills and behaviors, and then will appropriately imitate the behaviors depicted on the video.
Using a social story, cartooning, or a written script as a guide, student will appropriately respond in social situations.
Student will greet all peers and adults encountered while establishing and maintaining eye contact and saying, “hi” to a variety of peers and adults across at least three different environments.
XXX will tolerate Choral Reading without screaming or running away by sitting quietly.

NEURODIVERSITY MODEL
IEP Goals for free time or playtime – NONE: IDEA mandates that special education and related services be provided in the LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENTS (LRE).

Neurodivergent students deserve the same unstructured free time, playtime, and recess as neuromajority students to play as they choose.

Forced contact goals are archaic, ableist, and not based on scientific research.

Stimming has function. Why regulate it unless it is harmful (and then help with replacements)? Sensory strategies, not extinguishment.

Echolalia often, but not always, has communicative purpose (e.g. request, initiate conversation exchange, draw or gain attention, affirmative reply, protest). Model expansions.

Using a Total Communication Approach, including spoken, Core Language AAC, sign, gestures, behavior, and therapist modeling, child will increase expressive communication and self-advocacy to:

Request
Protest
Comment
Direct
Ask questions
Give opinions
Share News
Start a conversation
(Source: All the reasons we communicate by AssistiveWare.
https://www.assistiveware.com/learn-aac/consider-communication-functions)

Student will communicate personal, academic, and sensory needs, modifications, accommodations, and supports to which he is entitled, verbally and/or via AAC.

With fading support and access to AAC, XXX will identify personal areas of need for self-advocacy, and then identify strategies for communicating and expressing needs/wants, asking for clarification, explanation, or need for an example, to be presented when he does not understand a comment, direction, or activity.

Demanding tolerance for sensory triggers is abusive. Supports, accommodations: Earphones for choral reading activities – not compliance with tolerance. (Source: “…findings suggest that these autistic children would not benefit from ‘exposure therapy,’ in which a therapist gradually exposes a person to increasing levels of a troublesome stimulus.”

Green SA, Hernandez L, Lawrence KE, et al. Distinct Patterns of Neural Habituation and Generalization in Children and Adolescents With Autism With Low and High Sensory Overresponsivity. Am J Psychiatry.
2019;176(12):1010-1020. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18121333

© 2020 Therapist Neurodiversity Collective

IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Children – Part 2:

Roberts, J.  2020/09/10

https://www.facebook.com/
NeurodiversityCollective/
posts/4445703405503115

Before an IEP goal is accepted, determine if all possible supports, modifications and accommodations are implemented and actually being used for the student.

Then consider which of the two, either A or B, the IEP addresses:

A) Access to education, communication access/AAC, language development for educational purposes, functional ability, fine/gross motor skills, self-determination, self-advocacy, equitable access?B) Correcting or masking Autistic ‘deficits’ (differences) as compared with neuromajority peers?

DEFICIT/PATHOLOGY MODEL
When talking with others, Student will look at the person, use a pleasant voice, ask questions when appropriate, and not interrupt the other speaker.

When talking with another person, Student will maintain an appropriate voice tone by looking at the person, listen to the level of voice tone the other person is using, and speak slowly and calmly.

When Student wants to join a conversation, he will look at the people who are talking, wait for a point when no one else is talking, make an appropriate comment that relates to the conversation, choose words that are not offensive, and give other people a chance to participate.

Respond to teasing from peers appropriately.

Under the following conditions: when given scenarios of social conflicts, the student will independently demonstrate problem-solving skills by

a) identifying the problem and then

b) generating at least one socially appropriate solution/response.

The student will initiate and begin a back and forth conversational exchange on a topic of a peer’s choosing (for example, greeting and asking previously rehearsed questions learned during role-play) for 5 minutes.

Student will refrain from interrupting others in conversation.

Student will turn-take in a conversation on a peer’s chosen topic for 5 minutes, maintain eye contact and ask relevant questions in a pleasant tone of voice.

The student will appropriately acknowledge an interaction initiated by others by giving an appropriate response, either verbal or non-verbal.

When student needs to wait for his turn, he will sit or stand quietly, keep his arms and legs still, avoid whining or begging, and engage in activity when directed to do so by adult.

NEURODIVERSITY MODEL:
Student will describe what personal boundaries may look like when they do not conflict with her boundaries or others (such as what kinds of information to share with other people, phone safety, physical touching, friendships, peer pressure to do things that are against the rules, morally or ethically wrong, or harmful, bullying):

a) Describe her own personal boundaries (physical and emotional)

b) Describe what other’s boundaries may look like

c) Describe “safe people” when it comes to sharing personal or confidential information

After watching a video or listening to a passage student will a) predict or anticipate the reaction of the character independently, using emotion words to describe, and b) state how she might feel in a similar situation, and c) state how she might react, or what she might say in a similar situation and why.

When provided with difficult hypothetical social situations as encountered in role-playing with speech services, in videos, movies, short stories, and literature sources, Student will:

a) Identify the social problem (breakdown in communication, misunderstanding, conflicting communication styles, disagreement, etc.)

B) Self-identify how they feel about the situation (label emotions and accompanying physical sensations).

b) Generate a communication response to solve the problem which would be socially acceptable to most audiences, without sacrificing self-determination and self-advocacy.

(A socially acceptable response could include not engaging at all until the student is in a self-regulated state, and then, only if or until the student feels safe.)

In order to develop perspective-taking skills, student will self-generate possible responses or outcomes to a social situation or problem, including communicative initiations by others, and consider:

a) which response or outcome may be most positively received for the situation, and state why.

b) which response or outcome may be most negatively received for the situation, and state why.

c) state certain situations when generating a negatively received outcome might be appropriate, (turning down a dance, a date, compliance with something that makes her feel uncomfortable, infantilized, or unsafe).

© 2020 Therapist Neurodiversity Collective

Contrasting Therapy Approaches:
Roberts, J. 
2020/10/14

https://www.facebook.com/
NeurodiversityCollective/
posts/4621445074595613

Help! My teletherapy client is a non-speaking, Autistic 3-year-old. He can’t sit still. There are other kids running around in the background of his home, and I don’t know where to start! Ideas?
(A real-life conversation between therapists.)

Compliance Driven:
Alternate speech activities with movement activities.
Use visual schedule for the session so child can refer back to it. Visual cues for expected responses.
Have him say 5 words before getting a music video and use cards to turn over so he can see “all done”.
Have him give 10 responses before getting a break.
We give (NT kids) “hugs, high-fives, fist bumps smiles. For kids on the spectrum these types of interactions often have no meaning. Offering something that’s enjoyable to these little ones is a great facilitator.”
Have child attend to a screen for 3 seconds. Schools have desks for a reason. We need to teach children to sit and learn.
Motivate child with rewards – earn tokens or stickers, access to favorite foods, toys, activities.

Empathetic & Respectful
ABA is a human rights violation.
We don’t train children like animals. The child is non-speaking, so they need access to robust AAC with modeling.
There should not be expectations for the child to sit and be still – he’s three and he’s Autistic. (Sensory differences, stimming needs, neurodivergent listening styles.)
And attending to a screen is a compliance goal – not a communication goal.
Read some contemporary Autism research. (Masking, The Double Empathy Problem, Diversity in Social Intelligence.)
I don’t need a child’s compliance to teach them communication.
“For kids on the spectrum, these types of interactions often have no meaning.” – This statement says everything about what the therapist believes about Autistic children.
Don’t touch any kid without their consent.
Neurodivergent listening skills are different. Neurodivergent children learn while standing, rocking, stimming, and not making eye contact. Attending to a screen is a compliance goal, not a communication goal.
Intrinsic rather than prompt dependent extrinsic motivation for communication.
We don’t ‘train’ children. We train animals.

© 2020 Therapist Neurodiversity Collective
6,017 People reached. 1,199 Engagements.

Therapist Question of the Day:
Roberts, J.
2020/11/03

https://www.facebook.com/
NeurodiversityCollective/
posts/4706871652719621

Question of the Day – Setting Boundaries:

“One of my neurodivergent students opened up to me today and told me that she doesn’t like to receive “girly compliments” about her hair, clothing, appearance, etc. We researched compliments and learned that everyone likes to be complimented in different ways. We made self-portraits and wrote on them the kinds of compliments that we like to receive – you’re kind, smart, helpful…

We practiced how we could respond to those close to us who give us compliments on our appearance – “Thank you but I prefer to receive compliments on my personality or actions instead.”

But I’m really not sure if that’s helpful. Any advice on how we can work through this? She states her parents and RBTs most typically use the “girly compliments” so I want her to be able to voice her concerns to them in a supportive way.”

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective’s Answer:

Re: “her hair, clothing, appearance” – maybe these kinds of ‘compliments’ feel sexualized to her?

Side note – It is inappropriate for RBTs (Registered Behavior Technicians – ABA therapists) to be complimenting a female student on their appearance.

Rather than teaching her to say “Thank you, but…” why not empower your female student with self-advocacy skills to set boundaries with others?

How about teaching her how to respond with declarations such as – “When you compliment me on my appearance it makes me feel very uncomfortable, so please don’t.”

Just because someone compliments a young girl, it doesn’t mean they must compliantly reply with a sweet or polite response.

Help your student to develop ways to express her discomfort and her feelings. She needs to know that it isn’t wrong to disagree with others and that she has the right to speak up for herself.

Our neurodivergent girls need to feel empowered that they have the self-autonomy to say “No,” or “That makes me feel uncomfortable,” “Please don’t,” or “Stop.”]

Therapy vs Cure – 
Neurodivergence Affirming Therapy:
Roberts, J. 
2021/03/17

https://www.facebook.com/
NeurodiversityCollective/
photos/a.1849458958460919/
5291936527546461

Autism is a disability but autism is not “curable”.

The majority of the Actually Autistic Community do not want to be “cured” because Autism is their essence, it’s what makes them who they are. “Cure” means the autistic person looks neurotypical because they are masking their autistic characteristics – their essence.

A neurodivergence-affirmative therapy paradigm does not “treat autism”. Therapists may treat some of the co-morbidities accompanying autism when they impact quality of life, equitable access, and self-determination.

Examples of neurodivergent aligned therapy goals:

  • Self-advocacy for agency
  • Access to robust AAC and language modeling
  • Apraxia (the inability to perform learned (familiar) movements on command, even though the command is understood and there is a willingness to perform the movement.)
  • Apraxia of Speech – including access to robust AAC
  • Functional communication development in the mode that is best for the client (Spoken language is not the priority, functional communication is)
  • Language development (if language is delayed)
  • Articulation and phonological processing
  • Fluency strategies on the client’s terms
  • Swallowing and feeding issues, AFRID, with a trauma-informed approach and by a qualified provider (a Master’s level clinician who has taken anatomy, physiology, dysphagia classes, etc.)
  • Fine and gross motor issues
  • Activities of daily living (treatment provided in a trauma-informed manner, and with access to all the supports, accommodations and the person needs)

Examples of “Curative” therapy goals:

  • Social skills training (Eye contact, tone of voice, compliance for rote social scripting/responses, turn-taking like a neurotypical person, small talk, neurotypical body language, whole body listening)
  • Extinguishing monotropism
  • Compliance training with positive reinforcement or token economy system
  • Extinguishing stimming
  • ABA/Behavior intervention (extinguish or modify a person’s behavior) rather than investigating the underlying causes of the person’s behavior to address lack of communication ability and access, problems with how staff and others are treating, interacting and responding to the person, and especially adapting the environment to be conducive for success
  • Tolerating or extinguishing sensory overload
  • Teaching autistic people to look non-autistic through masking

© 2021 Therapist Neurodiversity Collective

What kind of therapist are you?
Roberts, J.
2021/03/31

https://www.facebook.com/
NeurodiversityCollective/
posts/5357954717611308

What Kind of Therapist are You?

Pathology Model:
Social Skills Training: a clinical or educational therapy model where the Autistic person trains to mask their natural social traits and practices imitation of spoken and nonverbal neurotypical social behaviors.

Methods: Behavioral rehearsal; Corrective feedback; Direct instruction through teaching or videos; Positive reinforcement for “correct social skills”.
Targets: Eye contact, inflection, tone of voice, elimination of monotropism or echolalia, and direct communication styles, learning to “turn-take”.

Clinical Outcome: Autistic person temporarily appears “less Autistic” through masking (but others still see an Autistic person.)
Other Outcomes: Chronic anxiety, exhaustion, depression, loss of identity, burnout, suicidal ideation

Neurodiversity Paradigm:
Pragmatic Language – Perspective-taking: a respectful and empathetic therapy model where the Autistic person and their family, instructors, and peers learn how autistic and neurotypical social communication may differ, (they learn the perspectives of the other neurotype).

Neurotypical social communication “norms” which vary greatly in families, cities, regions, countries and cultures. (“Social Skill Standards” are incredibly subjective.)
Diversity in Social Intelligence
The Double Empathy Problem
Autistic Masking and Camouflage

Outcomes: Increased understanding. Acceptance of diversity in social skills. Emotional well-being.

Nothing about Social Skills Training is Neurodivergence-Affirming – Absolutely nothing.

Roberts, J. 2021/05/27

Nothing about Social Skills Training is Neurodivergence-Affirming – Absolutely nothing.

Article Quotes:

“But, training the autism out of an autistic person is neither ethical nor accepting of neurodiversity. Deficit-driven clinicians and educators, as well as social skills training businesses, continue to attribute any autistic social difference as “deficient” while flat out ignoring the fact that social communication reciprocity is supposed to be a two-way street. Nothing about Social Skills Training is neurodivergence-affirming therapy. Absolutely nothing.”

“Social skills training inhibits authenticity, leading to a lifetime of living with chronic anxiety, incessant self-consciousness, self-doubt, self-shaming, and hypervigilance in social interactions. It creates an “us vs them” mentality in homes, and in educational and work environments, ‘othering‘ an entire neurotype in the pursuit of conformity and the almighty dollar. Social skills training starts with the premise that autistic and other types of neurodivergent social skills are disordered, deficient, wrong, bad… and therefore must be corrected with “skilled therapy”. Except autistic social skills are just… different.”

“Therapist expectations for autistic people to mimic neurotypical social communication through masking autistic traits are unrealistic at best, and disrespectful and ableist at worst. It’s a completely biased therapy model – that is, non-autistic people imposing their non-autistic standards on a neurominority. And it’s not even research-based.” 

“A tremendous amount of wasted time and effort is spent teaching autistic people that their social interactions are subpar, deficient, and “in need of intervention”, but the harshest lessons of social skills ‘intervention’ teach autistic people that unless they learn to successfully hide their autistic traits, they are inherently subpar human beings. An entire social skills training industry is successfully marketing ableism to the masses while clinging to the ridiculous stance that all human neurotypes need to think, feel, and behave in the same way, or else they are in dire need of intervention (and ‘these products‘ and ‘this treatment‘). Social skills training communicates superficial and conditional acceptance based on subjective and discriminatory standards of performance that non-autistic people determine for autistic people.”

“Think about this for a moment… Would you, Reader, want to be subjected to this kind of uncompromising scrutiny? Being continually judged for how well you are able to hide your neurotype (essentially, the essence of YOU) for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? It’s no wonder that autistic people have higher-than-average rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation secondary to continually camouflaging their autistic social characteristics. And therapists and social skills companies, rather than helping the people they purport to serve, are directly contributing to the potential emotional and psychological harm of other human beings in the pursuit of neurotypical conformity and revenue.”

“Rather than continuing to train autistic and other neurodivergent people to mimic neurotypical social skills, ethical and humane therapists and educators must shift their autistic narrative from an antiquated, deficit-based paradigm to one of inclusion, acceptance, empathy, and respect, and strive to teach all neurotypes about The Double Empathy Problem, Diversity in Social Intelligence (differences in social communication styles across neurotypes), and the harms of Autistic Masking and Camouflage.”

“Social skills training is a pseudoscientific and archaic model of therapy that is on par with other harmful therapies of the past, such as Gay Conversion Therapy. The highly biased clinical expectations for neurominority populations to conform to neuromajority social standards are naïve at best, and ableist, domineering and elitist at its core.”

So an SLP was late-diagnosed as Autistic this week…

Roberts, J. 2021/06/17

So an SLP was late-diagnosed as Autistic this week…

Article Quotes:

“My lived experience is that my spoken and written social skills, as well as my unconscious facial gestures and body language, erase all of my other abilities, achievements, and even my gifts, in the eyes of the neurotypicals who are running this world.”

“To me, this is ableist and unfair. To a social skills ‘expert’, it’s a cold fact of life and it’s my fault.
I am broken, in their clinical opinion, and gravely in need of fixing.”

“My style of social communication became a pathological condition when I became a speech-language pathologist.”

“It’s no wonder that there is a much higher rate of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among the Autistic population. We are routinely ostracized and repeatedly informed that we are not good enough, that we are damaged, deficient. The essence of who we are, our neurodivergence is offensive. And the neurotypicals believe that it’s our fault. My fault.
Because if only we would try harder we could be accepted…”

“Guess what?
Social skills classes don’t cure autism.
And Autistic people don’t need to be cured.
But we do need acceptance.”

 

Therapy Neurodiversity Collective / Traditional Therapy
Roberts, J.
2021/06/24

https://www.facebook.com/
groups/NeurodiveristyCollective/
posts/954566775365533/

(Private Study Group)

Autistic people:
think differently,
process senses differently,
move differently,
communicate differently,
socialize differently”
may need help with activities of daily living (including supports, modifications and accommodations) *** ASAN

trauma-informed care always, always, always.
“I decide” is prioritized first and foremost – personal agency, consent is regained over and over

sensory system and emotional safety is priority

Differences that must be forefront in therapy:

Monotropic interests systems, diversity in social intelligence, sensory systems, trauma, autonomy (personal and body)

The goal of therapy is NOT cure, it’s to help clients access what they want and need (NOT what the therapist thinks they need).

Traditional Therapy
behavioral (manipulate someone’s behavior through rewards/punishments, including planned ignoring, withholding, behavior charts, behavior goals)

body-autonomy violation, including hand over hand, forced feeding, tolerating another person touching or manipulating their body without explicit consent

Exposure therapy (desensitization, tolerance, extinction) – making clients ignore their sensory system, their emotional responses, their anxiety, their trauma,

neuronormative (make an autistic or other-neurodivergent person mask their neurodivergence to appear “cured”.)

Therapist led sessions, therapist chosen activities, therapist’s agenda

Train neurotypical social skills (masking and compliance, “blend”, “cure”)

© 2021 Therapist Neurodiversity Collective

SLPs write social skills goals all the time for how to make friends.

XYZ will turn-take with peer on their topic,
or learn these rote phrases and then say them to make friends,
or seek attention in appropriate ways by asking a peer to play, initiate conversation by saying hi or can I play or join in, giving compliments,
at recess or free time XYZ will play/participate, share, follow directions/rules, take turns with 1-2 peers for 10 minutes,
will identify the classmates they would like to get to know and greet them independently,
at recess student will initiate and begin a back and forth conversation exchange such as greeting them and asking about a shared interest, or asking peer has a pet…

What happens? Autistic kid dutifully learns these things, and then goes out to try them in a non-contrived setting, and… they get rejected, ignored, told to go away, ridiculed.
(Thin Sliced Judgments, Sasson et. Al 2017)

Why does this happen? Because, Autistic kids still look autistic, even after years of social skills training.

And they are harshly judged, not only by their peers, but by the adults around them, too.

Autistic people make friends differently.

Stop setting up autistic kids to believe that if only they just used these neurotypical tactics in a social engagement, well, THEN they’d have friends.

When it fails and ends in rejection, then, of course, it’s autistic kid that’s the problem.
They just needed to try harder, do it better. No, it’s the lack of acceptance from a neurotypical society that’s the problem.

Train acceptance.
Provide autistic kids access to other autistic kids with similar or shared interests ***without having a social engagement agenda*** or social skills goals.
Give it a while. Watch what happens.

Google: Chapter 39: Helping autistic children – OSF (download ahead of print pdf)

Neurodiversity Affirming or Neurodiversity Lite?
Roberts J.
20201/12/23

https://www.facebook.com/
NeurodiversityCollective/
posts/6757908880949211

38,222 people reached
3,292 engagements

Image Description: Neurodiversity Affirming or Neurodiversity Lite? A neurodiversity-affirming approach doesn't "treat Autism". Autism is NOT a disease, a medical injury, a behavioral problem. Definition of Intervention "Action taken to improve a situation, especially a medical disorder. An occasion on which a person with an addiction or other behavioral problem is confronted by a group of friends or family members in an attempt to persuade them to address the issue. Left side of poster: Presume Competence Neurodiversity Affirming Human Rights, respectful, empathetic, informed Right side of poster: The Expert Knows What's Best Neurodiversity Lite Performative, appropriate neurodiversity for $$$ Left side of poster: Neurodivergent-Affirming therapists don't treat autism (Autism Intervention). Both, Autistic lived experiences and contemporary research tell us it's unethical to write goals with outcomes for "normalization" through teaching/training autistic people to hide their autistic traits. (The Double Empathy Problem, Diversity in Social Intelligence, Monotropism, Autistic Masking & Camouflage) Autistic people are capable of learning, growing, and developing, just like all people do when well-supported. * Neurodivergent-Affirming Therapy Goals: Improve quality of life as determined by client, not the therapist. Effective and robust communication, self-determination, self-advocacy, access to supports. Informed consent and refusal of consent is provided at all times. Client's "no" is always respected and honored. Autistic play is authentic play. Autistic play is functional for autistic people. Research and autistic lived experiences tell us that training Autistic people to perform with Neurotypical social skills Just doesn't work. (Research & Lived Experiences) Enforces masking, leading to depression, loss of identity, chronic anxiety, suicidal ideation. Is dehumanizing, demeaning, elitist, and ableist. Goals: Present neutral information for navigating social interactions, and interpreting social situations Advocacy: Teach perspective taking about differences in social communication The Double Empathy Problem Validate Autistic social diversity Train Neurotypicals to accept Autistic social differences. Right side of poster: Therapist "Autism Expert" who Treats Autism, performs Autism Intervention Buy my expen$ive "Neurodiversity" master class, handbook, video training, CEU event on how to treat Autism, or Autism Intervention/Behaviors. Led by an allistic (non-autistic) therapist who knows somebody who is autistic - a child, family member, friend, etc. who will teach you how to understand autism. Uses neurodiversity lingo & the buzzwords although not always correctly. ABA is considered "controversial" (but not unethical, immoral, a violation of human rights) Compliance/behavioral based, treating "autistic behaviors" Trains/sells products for Social Skills training Therapy to reduce sensory responses through toleration, exposure, extinction. Therapy goals for play, socialization/social engagement, reduction/extinction of stimming, table "readiness" "Learning to learn"* "We all have to do things we don't like." "They have to function in the real world." "Autistic play is authentic play," but... let's shape it and make it functional, meaningful, purposeful, imaginative, social, "more fun". "Respect neurodiversity", but... Teach your autistic clients how "to have meaningful relationships, theory of mind, increase empathy, accept responsibility for and fix their communication breakdowns, their social awkwardness, socially engage appropriately, sit at a table or in a circle to learn, at even a young age. Reduce movement. Use their interests, hobbies, and activities as rewards for compliance or social skills training intervention. Modify/change autistic social communication traits to appear "normal", help them "blend". Adapted from Autistic Self Advocacy Network's "For Whose Benefit? Evidence, Ethics, and Effectiveness of Autism Interventions" - 2021 https://autisticadvocacy.org/policy/briefs/intervention-ethics/ © 2021 Therapist Neurodiversity Collective - A Collective for Neurodiversity-Affirming Therapists

A neurodiversity-affirming approach doesn’t “treat Autism”.
Autism is NOT a disease, a medical injury, a behavioral problem.

Presume competence

Neurodiversity Affirming
Human Rights, Respectful, Empathetic, Informed

Neurodivergent-Affirming therapists don’t treat autism (Autism Intervention).

Both, Autistic lived experiences and contemporary research tell us it’s unethical to write goals with outcomes for “normalization” through teaching/training autistic people to hide their autistic traits.
(The Double Empathy Problem, Diversity in Social Intelligence, Monotropism, Autistic Masking & Camouflage)

Autistic people are capable of learning, growing, and developing, just like all people do when well-supported. *

Informed consent and refusal of consent is provided at all times. Client’s “no” is always respected and honored.

Autistic play is authentic play.
Autistic play is functional for autistic people.

Research and autistic lived experiences tell us that training Autistic people to perform with Neurotypical social skills
Just doesn’t work. 
(Research & Lived Experiences)

Enforces masking, leading to depression, loss of identity, chronic anxiety, suicidal ideation.
Is dehumanizing, demeaning, elitist, and ableist.

Goals:
Present neutral information for navigating social interactions, and interpreting social situations

Advocacy:
Teach perspective-taking about differences in social communication
The Double Empathy Problem
Validate Autistic social diversity
Train Neurotypicals to accept Autistic social differences.

Definition of Intervention:
“Action taken to improve a situation, especially a medical disorder. An occasion on which a person with an addiction or other behavioral problem is confronted by a group of friends or family members in an attempt to persuade them to address the issue.

The Expert Knows What’s Best

Neurodiversity Lite
Performative, Appropriate, Neurodiversity for $$$

Therapist “Autism Expert” who Treats Autism, performs Autism Intervention
Buy my expen$ive “Neurodiversity” master class, handbook, video training, CEU event on how to treat Autism, or Autism Intervention/Behaviors.

Led by an allistic (non-autistic) therapist who knows somebody who is autistic – a child, family member, friend, etc. who will teach you how to understand autism.
Uses neurodiversity lingo & the buzzwords although not always correctly.
ABA is considered “controversial” (but not unethical, immoral, a violation of human rights)
Compliance/behavioral based, treating “autistic behaviors”
Trains/sells products for Social Skills training
Therapy to reduce sensory responses through toleration, exposure, extinction.
Therapy goals for play, socialization/social engagement, reduction/extinction of stimming, table “readiness”
“Learning to learn” *

“We all have to do things we don’t like.”
“They have to function in the real world.”

“Autistic play is authentic play,” but… let’s shape it and make it functional, meaningful, purposeful, imaginative, social, “more fun”.

“Respect neurodiversity”, but…
Teach your autistic clients how “to have meaningful relationships, theory of mind, increase empathy, accept responsibility for and fix their communication breakdowns, their social awkwardness, socially engage appropriately, sit at a table or in a circle to learn, at even a young age. Reduce movement. Use their interests, hobbies, and activities as rewards for compliance or social skills training intervention. Modify/change autistic social communication traits to appear “normal”, help them “blend”.

Adapted from Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s
“For Whose Benefit? Evidence, Ethics, and Effectiveness of Autism Interventions” – 2021

Short Essays Published on Facebook - In reverse chronological order. Retrieved 2022/03/18, and 2022/05/16

The evaluation reports I read rarely capture the students I know. “Lacks empathy”. “No interest in others”. “No communicative intent”. Evaluators, our ableist, dehumanizing report language needs to change.
Strength based reports. ☑️
Social Communication differences. (The Double Empathy Problem)☑️
Communicative intent. (If you didn’t have the ability to speak, how would you get your message across? What would that look like?) ☑️ – Julie
Learn more: “Avoiding Ableist Language: Suggestions for Autism Researchers” – https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/aut.2020.0014
 
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 16, May 2022 
On PBIS schools, field trip privileges and neurodivergent students…
Me to an autistic student I haven’t seen in a few weeks: “Hey, it’s so good to see you. How have you been”?
 
Student: “I was bad, so I don’t get to go to XYZ with my class”. (I later find out that the teacher informed the students who were to be left behind, in class, in front of their peers.)
 
Me: You are NOT a bad person. I hope you don’t really believe that.
 
Student: Hangs their head and says nothing.
 
Me: My heart hurts as I ruminate for days about this student, both filled with sadness for them, and worried about them internalizing their deep shame of failing to earn inclusion, and accepting at face value their teacher’s determination of their worthiness as measured by this autistic child’s inability to be neurotypical for 480 minutes a day, 180 days a year.
I work in the public school system. Where I live, the majority of the school districts are PBIS districts, including the one in which I serve several campuses. At the end of the year, the elite students – those who are able to always follow the code of conduct – will have the privilege of going on a long-awaited class trip to somewhere really special. This year’s class trip is SO EXCITING, especially because, thanks to the pandemic, there were no class field trips to be had in 2020 and 2021. But for those students who won’t be joining, because they lost too many Dojo Points, the day will be just one more day where they are reminded once again that they are “bad” and therefore deserve to be punished.
 
What are Dojo Points you might ask? It’s the dog training system that 95% of US schools (per the Dojo website) use to “manage student behavior” through praise and public shame.
So, if you are a compliant kid who’s a rule follower – as in you have the physical ability to sit quietly at a desk without moving your body, you never interrupt, always follow directions the first time, are able to walk silently in a straight line in the halls, not talk, blurt out comments and questions in class, sing or hum in your classroom, talk quietly and stay in your seat at lunch, and complete all your schoolwork and homework on time and then remember to turn it in – you will rack up those Dojo Points. But if you struggle with these things, not only do you fail to earn points, you lose them. And the consequences are that you are excluded. From sitting with peers at lunch. From getting the precious full amount of your recess minutes. From class parties. Special treats. And from class field trips.
I personally know many educators and therapists who still believe that autistic and neurodivergent people (direct quote) “do not have the option to pass on the societal and communal requirements or expectations of work, home, school, or community environments” (Cooke and Garcia-Winner, 2021).
If you, reader, are among those who believe that autistic and other neurodivergent students have the ability to strictly follow the societal requirements of a PBIS campus but are just choosing not to, when you exclude them from stickers, stamps, recess, parties, field trips, special movies, and all of the other privileges that the kids who rack up Dojo Points get, I hope it’s only because you’ve never carefully reflected on what living a school life spent in exclusion does to a child’s mental health and sense of worth.
– Julie
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 5, May 2022 
 
 

This is raw and from the heart. Some days I really struggle with the motivation to keep running the Collective, all the social media education, and the study group, and to continue the work of neurodiversity advocacy. Today is one of those days. I’m feeling discouraged, disillusioned, and burnt out. For those of you who don’t know, I started the Collective with my personal funds in January 2018, and continued to fund 100% of operations, until membership opened in April 2021. Even though membership brings in some money, I continue to contribute my personal funds. Every dollar the Collective receives in dues goes right back in, to pay speakers for our educational events for our members, to keep up the website, and to pay the bills to keep this organization running. The membership is not about making money. I have given several people free memberships due to inability to pay. And, approximately 20% of membership applications are turned away, because we take our mission seriously. There is no room in the Collective for performative neurodiversity.  
When I started the Collective four years ago (when neurodiversity was a joke within most of the SLP world), I thoughtfully and carefully make the decision not to sell any of the dozens of neurodiversity or autism educational materials I create for the Collective, because the end goal is to radically flip the narrative of autism and forever change the way therapy is provided to neurodivergent humans. It takes a great deal of public education to affect a sea change. Yet I have repeatedly seen the results of my hours and hours of labor appropriated, adapted and even plagiarized to be sold for ridiculous amounts of money by therapists when these materials were meant to be free. At times, it’s gutted me.
I don’t take a salary from the Collective, though I spend upwards of 15+ hours a week working for it, after already working at my SLP job that pays the bills, because to me, the Neurodiversity Movement is a social justice and human rights movement, and this is my form of activism. And sometimes I feel like my Collective work might be making a difference, and that sacrificing almost all of my personal time is worth it. That living with chronic exhaustion is worth it. Today’s not one of those days. 

Between the performative SLP social media influencers selling neurodiversity lite:
• “Neurodiversity” social skills training
• Outright ABA
• Play goals. “Appropriate” social engagement goals. And all the other autistic conversion goals. 
• Outrageously expensive “neurodiversity-affirming materials, classes, CEU events, and parent and professional coaching that are most of the time, anything but neurodivergent-affirming, and sometimes even harmful. 
• Self-promoting Instagram and TikTok videos, vlogs, and pretty posts by “rockstar” neurotypical, white, attractive SLPs, showing the world how “neurodiversity-affirming”, they are as they market their businesses using ins**porn***ational neurodiversity lingo and neurodiversity symbols they have appropriated and co-opted from the Autistic pioneers of the real neurodiversity movement to sell, sell, sell out a social justice campaign.  (When did the practice of speech-language pathology become a “lifestyle”?)

And, the apathy of “neurodiversity-affirming” CCC-SLPs who:
• Couldn’t care less that ASHA’s “neurodiversity” Autism Conference is led by BCBAs and other ABA-affiliated providers, with objectives that are anything but neurodivergent-affirming
• Can’t be bothered with lending their voices to protest ASHA permitting both false advertising and the co-opting of a human rights campaign by the ABA industry

I feel like giving up and walking away. ASHA CCC-SLPs, to the handful of you die-hard neurodiversity human rights activists, thank you. I am eternally grateful. Taking a break for a few days…  Julie

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 26, February 2022 (17,729 impressions, 2,797 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/7158484990891596

Intersectionality and Therapist Colonialism* – the practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another in the pursuit of “normalization”: I am outraged. Literally just got out of one more meeting where the related services provider is “working on correcting our autistic student’s social skills, including reinforcing eye contact”. All year long, I have focused on teaching this kid that their eyes (and the rest of their body) belong to THEM. That they have the right to personal agency and body autonomy. That no one, not even a therapist, has the right to force them to do something they don’t want to do with their OWN BODY PARTS. That they have the right to say NO. 

This kid has repeatedly said eye contact is uncomfortable and stressful. This kid has proved over and over that they can listen and interact without staring into someone else’s eyeballs. Why, in 2022 for goodness sakes, do service providers still feel entitled to demand that autistic students hand over their personal agency and body autonomy? Why do providers feel that their credentials entitle them to force another human being to comply with ridiculous and egotistic demands for “normalization” – demands that have absolutely NO BEARING on the person’s ability to listen and engage? How is it therapeutic to teach autistic kids that they are powerless to refuse another person’s demands, even if it’s uncomfortable, painful, and stressful? To train them to please other people at all costs, while denying their own needs? Add in the fact that most therapists are privileged, white people who work within the intersectional variables of race and disability, and there you have it – colonialist therapy. 

If you are still writing eye contact goals or demanding that your students and clients make eye contact (or even pretend to make “fake” eye contact – “just look at their forehead, look at their nose”), it’s time to stop the oppression and maybe read some research published after the 1990s. Your students’ bodies are not yours to do with as you please. – Julie

*Edit: I presume the competence of the followers of this page, but due to others’ concerns that Autistic people will generalize the term “colonialist therapy” to mean ***all*** autistic students and run with it, this post is about autistic BIPOC students. In regard to ***all*** autistic students, forcing eye contact is “conversion therapy.”

Here’s the link to download a free pdf copy of this photo:
https://therapistndc.org/…/2020/10/Eye-Contact-Goals.pdf

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 16, February 2022 (27,153  impressions, 2,815 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/7106001849473244

Dear Autistic People, I need your help.
I am presenting to a very large group of ASHA Speech-Language Pathologists on neurodiversity and autism next week. I will only have 1.5 – 2 hours with them, tops. This may be the only chance some of them will have to be exposed to a radical reframing of autism.
Some of these SLPs are likely behaviorists, some may never have heard of the neurodiversity movement or only know it in the performative context of neurodiversity-lite (because so many social media influencers, ABA clinics and social skills businesses have appropriated neurodiversity in their advertising as they continue to “treat the deficits of autism”).
Many of these SLPs may never have heard of The Double Empathy Problem, or the harms associated with Autistic Masking and Camouflage. Most may still be providing “autism treatment” and writing goals for autistic children to develop “meaningful” social skills and engagement, and “functional” play skills. Some may really believe that ABA is the best way to address “autistic behavior”.
I can’t seem to cut down the 60+ slides I have been working on since Xmas (because neurodiversity is a HUMAN RIGHTS movement there’s so much I want to tell them and I only have this short window of time). 

So will you please help me? From an #ActuallyAutistic person’s perspective, what are the ***most important*** things you want these ASHA SLPs to know about the current state of therapy for autistic people?

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 14, February 2022 (19,864  impressions, 3,824 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/7095075320565897

SLPs write social skills goals all the time for how to make friends. XYZ will turn-take with peer on their topic, or learn these rote phrases and then say them to make friends, or seek attention in appropriate ways by asking a peer to play, initiate conversation by saying hi or can I play or join in, giving compliments, at recess or free time student will play/participate, share, follow directions/rules, take turns with 1-2 peers for 10 minutes, will identify the classmates they would like to get to know and greet them independently, at recess student will initiate and begin a back and forth conversation exchange such as greeting them and asking about a shared interest, or asking peer has a pet… 
What happens? Autistic kid dutifully learns these things, and then goes out to try them in a non-contrived setting, and… they get rejected, ignored, told to go away, ridiculed. 
(Look up Thin Sliced Judgements- Noah Sasson). Autistic kids still look autistic, even after years of social skills training. And they are harshly judged, not only by their peers, but by the adults, too.
Autistic people make friends differently. Stop setting up autistic kids to believe that if only they just used these neurotypical tactics in a social engagement, well, THEN they’d have friends. When it fails and ends in rejection, then, of course, it’s the autistic kid that is the problem. They just needed to try harder, do it better. 

 

No, it’s the lack of acceptance from a neurotypical society that’s the problem. 

Train acceptance. Provide autistic kids access to other autistic kids with similar or shared interests ***without having a social engagement agenda*** or social skills goals. Give it a while. Watch what happens.

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 5, February 2022 (15,585  impressions, 1746 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/7045437772196319

Therapists, here’s your PSA of the day: Don’t call yourself a neurodivergent-affirming therapist if you are “neutral” about ABA. It’s performative.
Even playful ABA causes significant harm: teaching children to mask autistic traits. Teaching them that they are conditionally acceptable humans only if they successfully hide all traces of their authentic, autistic identity. ABA trains autistic children to ignore sensory distress and overwhelm, to mask their trauma and their pain. 
ABA teaches children that they must always be compliant to anyone who is more powerful. ABA teaches autistic children to deny self and strive to be whatever the provider’s idea of “acceptable human” is, no matter how uncomfortable, or difficult or painful.
ABA creates children who grow up to be manipulated, exploited, unable to set boundaries with people, and to allow their body autonomy to be violated.  
ABA is dehumanizing. Not taking a stand on one of the most important human rights battles within the neurodiversity movement is like stating you are “neutral” in any other human rights campaign. With your silence you are complicit.

 

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 1, February 2022 (31.709  impressions, 4,464 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/7024929424247154

As an #actuallyautistic person, this is the biggest struggle of my life: who is my friend, who is “friendly,” who is not my friend. I see my autistic and ADHD students struggling to navigate friendship too. My student will insist that XYZ is their friend when XYZ is clearly mocking, bullying, taking advantage of my student. “But sometimes they’re nice to me! They said they’re my friend.”
It’s so painful when you find out that you’ve got it all wrong. As an Autistic adult, I still get it completely wrong. So this post resonates. 💔

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 9, January  2022 (17,234  impressions, 2,235 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6855829231157175

Trigger warning #ActuallyAutistic 
I see you, SLP… 
Do you even have a clue how offensive this is? This was posted in an SLP group tonight by someone who was also in the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective study group (until a few minutes ago). As an Autistic SLP, I can’t even begin to convey how gut-churning it is to read something like this from one of your own professional peers. Literally made me sick to my stomach to run across it in my feed. 

SLPs – #StopTheAbleism 
Research: The Double Empathy Problem, Diversity in Social Intelligence.
Get yourself some cultural competence and cultural humility. Functioning labels are offensive. The majority of Autistic people use Identity-first language. Our autistic social skills are just fine. Leave us alone. #StopDemandingAutisticMasking

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 19, December  2021 (19,015  impressions, 6,397 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6727582383981861

Literally just finished giving a presentation this morning, “Social Skills Training – A Pro-Neurodiversity Paradigm,” for the Connecticut Youth Services Association’s 49th Annual Conference. The audience heard some pretty radical stuff… and if you know me, you know that I answer questions directly, without fluff, and I say exactly what I think. So when someone from the audience asked me where I “see behavior analysts operating in a neurodiversity-affirming framework of therapy?”, I first asked them if they REALLY wanted to know what I thought? And when they said yes, I spoke my truth…

“I told this professional audience of Youth Service Providers that ABA has absolutely no place in a neurodivergence-affirming model of therapy. I told them that I would like to see ABA be eliminated completely as a treatment for neurodivergent (and ALL other people). I told them that the use of ABA on non-consenting humans is a human rights violation.

My presentation was about the research going on in the areas of:
Autistic Masking and Camouflage (Autistic Suicide Rate is 3 times higher than the general population – here’s one of the primary reasons why)
The Double Empathy Problem
Diversity in Social Intelligence
Monotropism

I told these professionals that if they ***really*** want to help neurodivergent kids then they need to stop forcing them to conform to neurotypical standards, and they need to stop shaming autistic people for their neurodivergence, and for their neurodivergent styles of social communication. I told these professionals that if they truly want to help neurodivergent kids, then they need to teach kids and families and teachers and other professionals all about neurodivergent social communication styles – with the end goal being ACCEPTANCE. I told these professionals to stop assigning NT peers to ND kids as mentors, and I mentioned that they should Google Judy Endow’s powerful piece, “Assigned Friends Outcome”. I told them to read it with a tissue.

I told these professionals that what would really help autistic kids is to get them together with other autistic students for socialization opportunities with NO therapeutic agenda. (That includes those D&D, Minecraft, etc. social skills groups led by professionals and parents). I told these professionals that social skills training for autistic people needs to STOP because it is causing great trauma. I told them that the social skills training needs to happen with the neurotypical people. Including in the workforce.

I told these professionals that social skills training is a multimillion-dollar busine$ and the people who own these companies and who are pushing their neurotypical agenda – their products, books and materials, their groups, and their classes don’t want to lose that revenue, so these professionals need to be prepared to be a fierce advocate for their autistic students and clients to not be conscripted into social skills training.

I told those professionals that “Social skills training is an imposition of one culture over another.” (Kieran Rose – The Autistic Advocate). And that social Skills Training is a completely biased therapy model – that is, non-autistic people imposing their non-autistic standards on a neurominority.

I recommended that therapy consists of teaching kids to communicate personal agency without apology, to teach perspective-taking education, empathy, respect and ACCEPTANCE to EVERYONE – ND and NT without any expectation for neurotypical social communication outcomes. I implored these professionals to teach autistic students how to effectively self-advocate, and to empower their students and clients to know about and then understand that their social communication styles, their monotropic interest systems, and their passions and hobbies are perfectly fine. Just the way they are. That these autistic kids are perfectly acceptable just the way they are. That they don’t have to EARN neurotypical ACCEPTANCE through compliance and conformity (autistic masking and trauma).

I left them with, “Now that you know better, you should do better.”
Really radical stuff in the therapy world. Radical paradigm shifts… But SO IMPORTANT. I am kind of excited to see what the Youth Providers in Connecticut do now… Aren’t you?

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 22, October 2021 (40,042 impressions, 4,905 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6390078974398872

I feel sick… And angry. And grieved. Just opened an email from my regional educational center, which serves a seven-county area of more than 1.1 million students, inviting me to register for an upcoming continuing ed event titled “Symposium: Reduction in the Use of Restraints – Legal Issues, Case Studies, and Prevention”. The intended audience is special education admins and professionals and behavior specialists (because as we know, disabled children, as well as children of color, are far more likely to be restrained in schools). If you know me at all, you know I do my research. And here’s what I found out – This training is led by a large law firm that specializes in defending public schools in lawsuits. And apparently, they win a lot of them, because they proudly boast (right on their website):

• “Successfully defended a district in a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights alleging discrimination in the use of restraint and time out”.
• “Successfully defended a district in a civil rights lawsuit based on the death of a student”.
• “Successfully defended a district in a civil rights lawsuit based on the death of a disabled student”.

(Insert sarcasm) What an opportunity for special educational professionals – 6.5 hours of training for just $35! You, too, can learn how to possibly reduce the number of special education children you are restraining (we certainly don’t expect you to eliminate restraint altogether, though). And the next time you are restraining that disabled child, because you attended this training, you will know how to make damn sure you are restraining the disabled child in a way that we can successfully defend in a courtroom.

How is it, that in 2021 for goodness sake, we still care more about mitigating legal risk, and defending school staff who restrain disabled children then we do about protecting disabled children themselves?

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 14, October 2021 (7,524 impressions, 952 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6347980631942040

Literally sitting in a CEU event for school SLPS right now. Presenter is well known. They just told the entire SLP audience that we need to teach kids to “TELL MY EYES” in speech therapy, “TELL (insert peer’s) EYES… No mention of neurodivergent kids. No mention of cultural differences in eye contact appropriateness. Then the presenter says “If you think this is a great idea, SLPS, tell me “yes” in the chat box. In a vast sea of “YES’s” I am the only “NO”. My lone “no” is, of course, not acknowledged. We are still going on and on about the “talking eyes” as I type this. I would leave but I need the CEU hour.

***When*** are SLPs/SLTs going to enter the 21st century of practice? If we don’t change our archaic practices, we will go the way of the dinosaur. Eye contact goals are ableist, ***NOT*** culturally sensitive, and not research based.

Just a Few of the Countries Where Eye-Contact is not always considered part of Cultural Norms:
China, Japan, Iran (gender interactional related), Vietnam (gender interactional related), Cambodia, Indonesia (disrespectful to elders), Kenya (disrespectful to elders or higher status), Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Australia (sometimes), Canada (sometimes), Saudi Arabia (gender interactional related).

RESEARCH, SLPs. Research.
A little bit of research showing that ‘neurotypicals’ aren’t that good at eye contact either:
“New research debunks importance of eye contact”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190205102532.htm

“Demanding eye-contact from Autistic people puts them into a fight or flight response (activation of the amygdala).”
Hadjikhani, N., Åsberg Johnels, J., Zürcher, N.R. et al. Look me in the eyes: constraining gaze in the eye-region provokes abnormally high subcortical activation in autism. Sci Rep 7, 3163 (2017).

“Many (Autistic people) say that looking others in the eye is uncomfortable or stressful for them — some will even say that “it burns” — all of which points to a neurological cause.”
Massachusetts General Hospital. “Why do those with autism avoid eye contact? Imaging studies reveal overactivation of subcortical brain structures in response to direct gaze.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2017.

“In addition, variation in eye fixation within autistic individuals was strongly and positively associated with amygdala activation across both studies, suggesting a heightened emotional response associated with gaze fixation in autism.”
Dalton KM, Nacewicz BM, Johnstone T, Schaefer HS, Gernsbacher MA, Goldsmith HH, Alexander AL, Davidson RJ. Gaze fixation and the neural circuitry of face processing in autism. Nat Neurosci. 2005 Apr;8(4):519-26. doi: 10.1038/nn1421. Epub 2005 Mar 6. PMID:

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 1, October 2021 (19,513 impressions, 2,479 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6279656792107758

Adopting a neutral “middle of the road” stance never once progressed a #HumanRightsMovement.
It’s basically saying you’re apathetic about the movement’s causes, apathetic to their suffering, apathetic about your “allyship”.

Yes, we reject ALL #ABA, including PBS, PBIS, FBAs, and rewards and punishments behavior intervention plans.
Neurodivergent people are not just behaviors waiting to be manipulated or extinguished.

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 27, September 2021(6,967 impressions, 722 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6258848137521957

When you are providing “intervention” for things like

• Making an autistic child demonstrate “empathy” and “theory of mind” according to your neurotypical expectations of what that should look like (all while assuming that empathy and theory of mind are automatically lacking in autistic children).
• Quashing an autistic child’s (non-self or other harm) stimming in the classroom because you have “analyzed” it and don’t see it as purposeful or functional.
• “Helping” an autistic child or teen become more “well-rounded” or “age-appropriate” by withholding access to their monotropic passions, and forcing their engagement in other “free time” or “leisure activities” that you have deemed more age-appropriate or preferable.
• Shaming autistic children into hiding their honest observations, and truth-telling, making them personally responsible for someone else’s hurt feelings if they tell the truth (correct incorrect facts, point out inconsistencies, point out unfairness or injustice, point out the obvious, use direct language).
• Training “thinking with eyes” and shaming for lack of “body in the group”, while ignoring that it’s physically impossible for that autistic child because it is uncomfortable or even painful.
• Training toleration of sensory distress through “desensitization” treatment in order for an autistic child to gain access to inclusion, or to not be secluded.

Basically, you are “intervening” with the naturally occurring differences that make autistic people” autistic”. Basically, you are “intervening” with permitting the existence of autistic people in your neurotypical world.

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 26, September 2021 (12,739 impressions, 1,196 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6256239601116144

Performative Neurodiversity’ – aka ‘the commercialization of a human rights movement.’ Looks like:
Advertising your therapy company as neurodiversity-affirming, but maintaining a financial association with an ABA company where you both sell/profit from reciprocal training and certification.

Advertising your therapy or educational company as neurodiversity-affirming, but maintaining the ‘neutral’ position that “ABA is a family choice”.

Advertising as a pro-neurodiversity therapy option, provider, trainer, but collaborating, presenting, training with ABA providers.

Branding your neurotypical self as “a neurodiversity expert” to sell your ableist “neurodiversity-affirming” therapy products, books, and events. – Bonus points for using inspiration porn, promising to “build empathy”, “normalize brain function”, or co-opting “autistic play is authentic play” and then talking about how to shape that authentic autistic play to be “meaningful”, “build joint attention skills”, “build functional skills”, “be purposeful”.

Slinging your neurotypical social skills training, books, groups, products, classes, materials, CEU events as a “neurodiversity-affirming” therapy or “intervention”.

Labeling your social skills (whatever it is you’re pu$hing to parents) as an “intervention”.

Insisting on a ‘neurodiversity’ podcast that social skills training is a pro-neurodiversity practice (because you’re the owner of a social skills company, so of course, you would know). Or touting neurodiversity while declaring that the “appropriate application of ‘soft skills’ is more important than any other job skill,” and “the neurotypicals aren’t the only ones in the room with the egos”, and, “What they (Autistic people) expect from others is unrealistic”, and “They (Autistic people) don’t realize they are being offensive”, and “My clients are too literal”, and “If you look neurotypical, we are going to judge you more harshly; there is no forgiveness factor”, and Reality is that we learn in groups, group engagement. One person out of alignment can destroy the entire group.”

Performative neurodiversity is “whole body listening, eyes in the group, body in the group”.

Performative Neurodiversity conveniently disregards lived experiences, authentic social communication, The Double Empathy Problem, Monotropism, Diversity in Social Intelligence, and the significant harms and trauma of Autistic Masking and Camouflage.
Performative Neurodiversity conveniently ignores the actual purpose of the Neurodiversity Movement – a human rights campaign seeking ACCEPTANCE (not ***conditional acceptance*** on neurotypical terms!), inclusion, equitable access, and social justice.

Appropriating a human rights campaign to pitch your ableist products and “expert training” to a whole new audience does ***NOT*** benefit neurodivergent people. It benefits YOU (and your bank account).

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 26, September 2021 (11,396 impressions, 969 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6251280228278748

Therapist:
I had to send a neurodivergent kid back to their classroom because they were being disruptive in the therapy group and became aggressive.

(Me) Neurodivergence-affirming solution:
The kid obviously was in dysregulation. The group appears to be too stimulating and overwhelming for them. It’s not their fault they were in dysregulation. Change the environment to meet their need. Sounds like they need to be seen on their own?

Therapist:
I can’t do that. It’s inconvenient. There’s not enough time in my day. Do you expect me to see kids during my lunch? I have too many kids on my caseload. It’s not going to work for me.

(Me) Neurodivergence-affirming solution:
None of this is the kid’s fault. A neurodivergence-affirming solution is to adapt the environment to make it work for the kid. If that means that you are going to have to advocate to make the time to see a kid on their own, if that’s how they need to be seen to do well, then you are going to have to go to bat for them to get what they need, including changing the IEP to 1:1 therapy, having a difficult conversation with your principal, the ARD committee, your boss. It’s the ethical thing to do. Change the environment.

Therapist:
You don’t understand. Your answer is unfair. This is not a real solution. I need to see them in a group because it’s scheduled that way because I have too many kids. I don’t want to make waves at work. I don’t like your answer.

(Me) Neurodivergence-affirming solution:
Change the environment. Ethically, it’s the right thing to do. ASHA’s Code of Ethics – “Individuals shall honor their responsibility to hold paramount the welfare of persons they serve.” Clearly the environment, as it is now, is not supporting the needs of this particular kid. My answer remains the same. Change the environment.

Therapist: I just want help and you are not helping me…

(Me) Neurodivergence-affirming solution:
It’s neurodiversity 101: Change the environment, provide the accommodations, the modifications and the supports that the neurodivergent kid needs. I really don’t know what else to say… I get it. Caseloads ***are*** too big. But neurodivergence-affirming therapy doesn’t involve making neurodivergent kids tolerate environments that they are not equipped to tolerate, just because a caseload is too big.

Reader, you can’t expect or demand compliance when a kid’s neurodivergent sensory system, their neurodivergent brain, their neurodivergent body just aren’t equipped to tolerate a (hostile for them) environment. Kids will do well if they can (Ross Greene). And if the kid is not doing well, then it’s our job as therapists to adapt the environment, to provide the accommodations, the modifications and the supports to help them do well.

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 16, September 2021 (30,867 impressions, 4,149 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6195117480561690

Was testing an autistic student with an (ableist) standardized pragmatic language assessment so they can meet special education criteria for “pragmatic language speech services” in school (and get some therapy to help with self-advocacy and problem-solving skills). The special education pragmatic language eligibility will also give them access to accommodations and supports, including supplemental AAC when they struggle with spoken language production or entirely shut down during sensory overwhelm or a meltdown.

Test Prompt: “So and so is going on and on about a topic (their passion) in a conversation with a friend. The character talks about all the details of the subject, the people involved, and everything else he can think of to describe an event he just attended. The friend with whom he’s talking says, “That’s enough!” and then just walks away from the speaker. What went wrong?”

Side note: The “correct answer” on this test is along the lines of “the topic content is far too detailed and tedious, and the story must have less detail to be successful.”
Kid’s answer: “That friend was a little bit mean.”

Me: “Yes, he WAS mean. My feelings would have been hurt.”

Kid: “Me, too.”

And we smile and we ***get it***.

THIS is the autistic perspective when neurotypicals shut down monologuing rudely, cruelly, judgmentally. It’s a lived experience, and so including it in a report is an evidence-based practice (which is exactly what I did).

I marked the response “wrong” along with others like it that were examples of The Double Empathy Problem, Diversity in Social Intelligence, and Monotropism. And the kid qualified for those accommodations and supports that they need.

THEN, in the report, I give a detailed description of the missed prompts pertaining to the Autistic Lived Experiences of this kid, describing THEIR perspective of the situation, so that the “experts” who come along after me might understand a little better why this kid doesn’t need IEP goals to extinguish their monotropism, their monologuing, their authentic style of social communication. I also cite the research supporting The Double Empathy, Diversity in Social Intelligence and Monotropism right there in the report.

I write IEP goals for problem-solving and self-advocacy. And during these sessions, this autistic student will be taught the perspective of neurotypical social rules (while validating their own autistic perspective as equally valid), and those around the student will be educated on Autistic styles of social communication, because, HELLO, we live with monotropic interest systems and talk to each other and over each other about our passions all the time. We don’t think it’s rude, we think it’s a perfectly natural way to communicate.

I will teach those around this kid about The Double Empathy Problem, Diversity in Social Intelligence, Monotropism, and most importantly, about Autistic Masking and Camouflage.

And I will teach this kid that being an Autistic person doesn’t mean that their style of social communication is a pathology just waiting for the next SLP, or counselor, or ABA tech to shape or extinguish.

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 15, September 2021 (35,549 impressions, 4,655 engagements) https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6189225924484179

I’ll say it LOUDER for those in the back. ABA is ***NOT*** a neurodiversity-affirming practice. Training Autistic children to mask their autism through Social Skills Training is ***not*** a neurodiversity-affirming practice.

Neurodiversity is now THE way to make $$$, don’t you know? Autism is a multibillion-dollar business and everyone wants a slice of the pie! Buyer Beware!

I didn’t have time to make a cute graphic, but if you want to know if a therapy provider, a training event, a CEU opportunity, or a book, program, or speaker is actually neurodiversity-affirming or only has figured out the next buzzword to make a buck, here’s some clues about the latter:

1) They don’t use identity-first language, at least interspersed throughout their website and their advertising materials. They use “ASD” or “with ASD”, or “has Autism”. Worse – “suffers from”…
2) They talk about “reducing symptoms”, or about “teaching play skills”, or “Social Skills Training as a pro-neurodiversity practice”, or that autistic people lack empathy, are not able to show love, are lacking theory of mind.
3) They are not well versed in “The Double Empathy Problem”, “Diversity in Social Intelligence”, “Autistic Masking and Camouflage”, Monotropism, Monotropic Interest Systems, nor do they fold this research into their practices.
4) They “treat autism”. They collaborate with ABA providers – in training events, in books and other for-profit endeavors, combining “relationship-based therapy models” with behavior approaches.
5) They are suddenly “Neurodiversity Experts”.

If you want to learn about neurodiversity, go to the experts, the neurodivergent people themselves.

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 13, September 2021 (23,005 Impressions, 3,131 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6179864322087006

Who needs the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)? The school, not the kid. Recently evaluated an autistic student. They were pulled out of their classroom to meet with me, with ZERO warning, even though the campus had known I was coming because it was on their calendar for a while, and I confirmed.

When I arrived to the classroom the kid was totally engaged in what they were doing in class and protested being abruptly pulled out with their behavior because they were too overwhelmed to use spoken communication. NO ONE TOLD THEM THAT THEY WERE BEING PULLED AND TESTED THAT DAY.

ABA tech follows the kid and me to the evaluation room, inquiring if I need their “help” managing the kid’s behavior.
Me: “No thank you.” Smiles. “I will be fine with XYZ alone.”
ABA tech stays outside the door, watching through the window for how I will make the kid comply. The ABA tech finally walks away after about 10 minutes.

Here’s the deal… I don’t demand compliance from this kid.
What I do is I validate the kid’s feelings.
I APOLOGIZE for the lack of warning, for the unexpected transition, for the unexpected testing session, the unexpected interruption to THEIR day.

Then I sit and wait without any expectations for compliance, without any expectations for whole body listening, without demanding that they sit down and face me and get to work… I wait.

And then after a few minutes of silence as they explore the room, I ask them, “Do you want to share some of your favorite activities or hobbies with me?”

And they grudgingly list a couple of things they like.
And I ask them to tell me more, and I ask curious questions about their passions, and then they start talking more and more as I put out the testing materials.
And then they talk even more about their favorite things.

All the while, I listen to understand. After a few minutes, they start to look interested in what I have put out and they touch it. I wait and let them talk more about anything they want to talk about.

And we establish a rapport. And then when I think they might feel safe, I ask them if they are ready.
And they say “yes.” They give THEIR consent to be tested.
And they complete the entire evaluation:
Without making eye contact.
Without whole-body listening
Without the use of any sort of rewards or threats of punishment
While they move their body, stand at times, pull a piece of clothing over and off their head, and while they sometimes look completely away altogether from the materials as they listen.

They were intrinsically motivated to complete the task at hand.
Their comprehension was actually BETTER because they were allowed to use their neurodivergent listening skills instead of focusing on compliance with neurotypical listening skill expectations

They completed an entire assessment battery without the use of any external motivation –
Because I validated their feelings, their frustrations, their anxiety.
Because I apologized for disrespecting their needs for a schedule, for transition warnings, for pre-knowledge of unexpected work.
Because I worked WITH their monotropic interest system.
Because I treated them humanely, empathetically, and respectfully

So, who needs the FBA?
The school.
The school needs a behavior plan.
We all know the antecedent – the student had zero warning for an abrupt transition and unexpected tasks. They were in a monotropic flow state and the staff expected unquestioned compliance.

The staff needs “intervention strategies necessary to alter antecedent events to prevent the occurrence of the behavior, teach individual alternative and adaptive behaviors to the student, and provide consequences for the targeted inappropriate behavior(s) and alternative acceptable behavior(s).” (FBA)

Regarding this kid, the FBA for the staff looks like:
All staff using a visual schedule with a countdown, all day long with warning before transitions occur. This schedule is used all the time, on “bad days” AND on “good days” and is updated as needed.

Letting student know when unexpected events will be occurring during their day, and preparing them, even the day prior, and a few times up to the event.

Acknowledging anxiety and even anger when the kid is pulled out of a flow state.

Treating them as a human being and not a behavior to be managed.

Change the ENVIRONMENT and change the behavior.
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 9, September 2021 (63,610 impressions, 9,694 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6157917064281732

Just reviewed an IEP for an Autistic student who is passing all of their classes and has “positive social skills.” (insert eye-roll 🙄). Yet this student has a behavior plan on their IEP. Because, of course, they are Autistic, so they must obviously need to have their behavior controlled.

“By the next annual IEP meeting, when given an assignment or independent task, (Autistic Student) will remain on task, ignore distractions, and work quietly 100% of the time. Baseline is 85%(!)

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME.

Do YOU remain on task and ignore distractions 100% of the time? I sure don’t! So why do schools hold Autistic kids to such a ridiculous standard? Message: If you are Autistic, you must be PERFECT 100% of the time.

We owe it to our students to do better. And to speak up when someone writes a behavior plan in a school meeting that is unrealistic, ridiculous, and frankly, just all about control. Autistic students are HUMAN BEINGS, not ROBOTS.

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 31, August 2021 (50,727 impressions, 7,828 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6109828502423922

Neurotypical expectations for Autistic-led educational platforms: “Hey, I want you to spend hours upon hours educating me (and so many others) about autism and neurodiversity, while thoughtfully answering every single one of my parenting questions from your actually autistic perspective.
I expect you to tirelessly, vulnerably, and rawly expose your private life, using up all your spoons up in emotional labor to share your innermost thoughts and lived experiences publicly (without pay, I might add), so I can understand my autistic child better. But hey, could you also be “less autistic” in your space? Could you just tone down your advocacy efforts a level or three for my benefit, and could you try  harder to use neurotypical social skills while you’re at it?”
#actuallyautistic #autistic #AutisticAcceptance #DiversityInSocialIntelligence #SLP #TheDoubleEmpathyProblem #endtheableism

 

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 15, August 2021 (31,289 impressions, 4,234 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/6027302414009865

Is it a Sales Pitch or Is it Real?
“Neurodiversity” lingo has certainly caught on with therapists and therapy-related businesses. Everybody and their brother is on the neurodiversity bandwagon it seems. And “neurodiversity” therapists and therapy-related ads are everywhere! ABA providers, Social Skills Trainers, and other therapists and therapy-related businesses are appropriating neurodiversity buzzwords and proclaiming from the rooftops that ***they are the neurodiversity-affirming experts.***
In January 2018, Therapist Neurodiversity Collective began our education and advocacy mission towards therapists to start a paradigm shift, a sea change if you will, towards respectful, empathetic, trauma-informed, ABA-free therapy. (Autistic people, the ***ONLY Autism experts*** and other neurodivergent self-advocates were championing their rights to respectful therapy practices long before us.) But now it seems that that “pro-neurodiversity” is the only kind of therapist you will find. Buyer beware
Neurodiversity is not about riding the gravy train of selling Autism (Autism Industrial Complex (AIC). Neurodiversity is not a marketing campaign. It’s a HUMAN RIGHTS campaign.
Broderick, Alicia & Roscigno, Robin. (2021). Autism, Inc.: The Autism Industrial Complex. Journal of Disability Studies in Education. 1-25. 10.1163/25888803-bja10008.

 

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 22, June 2021 (18,064 impressions, 1,758 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5764103886996387

An Autism diagnosis is an expensive privilege, especially for late diagnosed because insurance doesn’t usually cover it (at least in the U.S.A). I had to pay out of pocket for mine. It was a three-and-a-half-month process, taking my time, and a lot of emotional energy as well to complete the evaluation. If you missed the story, it’s in the comments. A lot of Autistic people will never feel safe to “come out” because of the stigma surrounding the perception of autism. 

When Autistic people come out, oftentimes their relationships change, or they end altogether, they lose jobs, and autism bias leads to their colleagues thinking they are “less competent,” “less intelligent”, etc. If your teenager, your family member, or your co-worker is ND or autistic, it’s very understandable why they would choose to keep their diagnosis private. Their current environment isn’t safe.
The stigma surrounding an autistic diagnosis that organizations such as Autism Speaks have perpetuated is reprehensively damaging. They have framed an autism diagnosis as “a tragedy”, they scare the public with terminology such as “suffers from”, and recommend harmful and trauma-inducing “autism interventions” to “free the autistic person”, such as ABA and Social Skills Training so that autistic people will look less autistic. We know that there is no cure, so the ultimate intervention goal is for the autistic individual to “hide the autism” to look neurotypical. I spent a lifetime of masking. It doesn’t work.
First, it’s impossible to keep up 24/7. You might be able to make it through part of the school day, or the job interview, and maybe the first few social exchanges, but masking day after day is impossible and it’s exhausting.
Second, there are significant prices the masker pays, affecting their self-esteem, their mental and emotional well-being and often, their health. And sometimes it takes their life.

Yes, Autistic people do suffer, but not because of our autism,. We suffer because we live in judgmental and harsh environments that are not accommodating or empathetic, and in a world where, according to Social Skills ‘experts’: “If you look neurotypical, you will be judged all the more harshly”. These kinds of statements from professionals perpetuate stigma and bias. It’s a narcissistic, elitist position, and it’s not the least inclusive or empathetic, or “pro-neurodiversity” at all.

I “came out” so to speak, because my mission is to change the narrative about Autism altogether. To end the stigma surrounding neurodivergence. It wasn’t easy and it has put me in a very vulnerable position as a practicing therapist.

How about, instead of making people mask their autism, we just accept diversity in sensory systems, interest systems, and social intelligence as a fact of life? How about we accept people’s social communication differences and we include them at the table and in our schools and workplaces and social circles, just as they are? Maybe it’s a utopian vision, but it would be a much less ableist and harmful world, and a lot safer and nicer existence for us all…💛

 – Julie, Founder of Therapist Neurodiversity Collective

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 19, June 2021 (7,097 impressions, 1,758 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5753733254700117

 

So full of their elitism and ableism and they can’t even see it. 
TNDC is not reposting SocialThinking’s article: “Respecting Neurodiversity by Helping Social Learners Meet Their Personal Goals” (©2021 Think Social Publishing, Inc.) because we don’t want to help them with their publicity. If you want to read it – Google it. 

The Neurodiversity Movement is a Human Rights movement, NOT a marketing scheme. And neurotypical therapists don’t get to determine whether or not their goals, materials, and training events meet neurodivergent affirming standards, but Social Thinking believes that they are the exception, because they are the self-appointed experts on “implied or stated social norms”.

Here are just a couple of arrogant gems from this article. 

“But some, or possibly many, in the neurodiversity movement might say that the examples above are forcing conformity. That giving any type of social intervention or strategy is to devalue who the person is. We see it differently.” (Implication – Because we therapists and educators are the experts on neurodiversity, not the Neurodivergent communities).

“The SECR is to be used as a way to expose the social code that may not be clear to all types of learners.” (Implication: The neurotypical social code is clear to neurotypical people, so everyone should conform to it.)

Social Skills training is ableist, archaic and it does not work, except maybe temporarily while the neurodivergent person masks until they hit the point of exhaustion and burnout. 
 
Research: 
Autistic children “generally receive the greatest amount of social skills intervention during this developmental period (Kindergarten through 12th grade), which decreases precipitously after high school. Thus, despite being at an age when intense attention is often paid to social skills training, the children are nonetheless rated poorly by both adults and same-age observers.”
Sasson NJ, Faso DJ, Nugent J, Lovell S, Kennedy DP, Grossman RB. Neurotypical Peers are Less Willing to Interact with Those with Autism based on Thin Slice Judgments. Sci Rep. 2017;7:40700. Published 2017 Feb 1. doi:10.1038/srep40700

#WeDontTrainSocialSkills #AutismAcceptanceMonth #AutismAcceptance #diversityinsocialintelligence #thedoubleempathyproblem #takeoffthemask – Autistic Masking is harmful!

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 12, April 2021 (9,555 impressions, 1,724 engagements)https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5422747711132008

We get asked this all the time:
Q: “If you don’t treat autism or train social skills, what is it that you actually do with autistic clients?”

A: We provide the same kind of therapies for autistic and other neurodivergent people that a therapist would provide for everyone else. We treat autistic people and other neurodivergent people as we would any other student, client, or patient. We respectfully and empathetically work with our students, clients, and patients to develop and implement a therapy plan to help them reach their goals (functional communication, self-determination, and autonomy to the greatest extent possible with as many supports and accommodations as needed).

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 5, April 2021 (22,211 impressions, 3,034 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5384073554999424

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… (Oscar Wilde) While it’s encouraging to see therapists’ and therapy/educator business pages jumping on the Neurodiversity bandwagon (but still carefully being neutral on ABA as it’s the “parent’s choice” and all that jazz), to Therapist Neurodiversity Collective, this isn’t a marketing scheme. It’s a #humanrights issue. We have been saying these things about therapy practices since January 2018:

ABA cannot be reformed. In this there is no compromise.
The days of Autistic Social Skills Training are over (Diversity in Social Intelligence, The Double Empathy Problem, Autistic Masking and Camouflage)
We don’t treat Autism.
Compliance is not a goal, it’s manipulation.

We look for the causes of behavior and fix those – environment, staff/family actions and reactions, lack of access to functional communication, sensory overload…

Just because a therapist advertises as Neurodiversity Paradigm-aligned, uses some of the lingo, and gets rid of the puzzle pieces, it doesn’t mean that they really are. 

Our DIRECTORY will open in April, happily coinciding with #AutismAcceptance month. 
Every Directory Listing will have agreed to follow our practice guidelines in full,  and meet additional advertiser requirements. 

We want to ensure that the providers Therapist Neurodiversity Collective recommend to the public are truly following a Neurodiversity aligned paradigm – and not just riding on the coattails of a trendy advertising niche.

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 22, March 2021 (6,255 impressions, 883 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5312287558844691

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective understands that communication is a multi-way process and that the onus should not be placed solely on Autistic people to repair communication differences. Autistic (and more broadly neurodivergent) people communicate differently than neurotypical people. And yet we therapists (and the world) often expect them to change their communication styles, to make adjustments, and to comply with often confusing spoken and unspoken rules of social interaction. We don’t’ train social skills because we know that diversity in social intelligence is natural and viable.
For more information -https://therapistndc.org/therapy/social-skills-training/
#actuallyautistic #autismacceptance #DiversityinSocialIntelligence
#TheDoubleEmpathyProblem #autisticmasking #WeDontTrainSocialSkills

Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. Facebook. 20, March 2021 (5,273 impressions, 370 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5303910146349099

The Facebook Chronicles – Roberts, J. Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. January 17, 2018 – February 18, 2021. Timeline: Development of neurodiversity-affirming therapy practice ideologies: Retrieved 2022/03/17

Facebook. 17, January 2018
“SLP Neurodiversity Collective believes that it is critical for us to really listen to autistic people, and to conduct our therapy practices accordingly. #masking #neurodiversity #adultautistics

https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/1856893247717490

Facebook. 24, January 2018
“SLP Neurodiversity Collective is an international collective of Speech-Language Pathologists who believe that neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. These neurological differences can include those with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others. We work to empower our clients across the world to take control of their own communication. We advocate for our “neurodiverse”* clientele for self-determination. We believe in the dignity of all human beings, respect of individual rightsrespect of sensory preferences, and the power to say “no”.  © 2018 SLP Neuordiversity Collective (Do not re-use without written permission).”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/1866401416766673

(* this word is used incorrectly. The correct word is “neurodivergent” as coined by Kassiane Asasumasu.)

Facebook. 4, February 2018. “We, as Clinicians, Advocates, and Allies, pledge to actively listen to and respect the voices, views, and experiences of the Autistic community.

SLP Neurodiversity Collective is an international collective of Speech-Language Pathologists who believe that neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. We work to empower our clients across the world to take control of their own communication in the manner which works best for them. We advocate for our neurodiverse clientele for self-determination. We believe in the dignity of all human beings, respect of individual rights, respect of sensory preferences, and the power to say “no”. © 2018 SLP Neuordiversity Collective (Do not re-use without written permission).”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/1880805505326264

Facebook. 8, February 2018.
“The conversation with an SLP/BCBA which led to the founding of the SLP Neurodiversity Collection…
(Replying to the SLP/BCBA in an SLP FB group): “I cannot, and will not disregard the opinions of neurodiversity advocates (who are worldwide and growing quickly), researchers like Michele Dawson, and (Autistic Self-Advocacy associations such as) ASAN.
Fluff it up all you want (ABA therapy); but I don’t believe that language is a “behavior”; and I believe all behavior is communication. I cannot assume to know how a pre-verbal child feels in therapy, all I can do is, first, and foremost, do no harm, and I do everything in my power to let the little know they are powerful, are in control of their own bodies, and their favorite things, and that they have the power to say no, stop, and “I don’t like this,” even if communicated through behavior. I believe this is ultimately a human rights issue.”
And then the SLP Neurodiversity Collective was founded. ♥️”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/1885776144829200

Facebook. 11, February 2018.
“We are a growing group of like-minded Speech-Language Pathologists who believe that the emotional well-being of the child supersedes mandating “compliant” behavior. We are autistic allies who assert that all behavior is communication and that sometimes behavior is the only communication a child may have the ability to produce at that particular moment. We are anti-ABA. We advocate neurodiversity, self-determination, inclusivity, dignity, respect of individual rights, sensory preferences, and the power to say “no”. Above all, we seek to understand the reason behind our clients’ behaviors. While supporting the child’s emotional well-being, we provide them with therapy to expand their communication in meaningful and functional ways, and in the manners which best work and are most natural for them”. SLP Neurodiversity Collective© 2018”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/1889423994464415

Facebook. 31, March 2018.
“We at SLP Neurodiversity Collective do not ever presume to speak on behalf of Actually Autistic communities; we do our best to listen and learn from the experiences and viewpoints we are privileged to have shared with us. We don’t always get everything perfect, as Allies, but we pledge to continue to listen to, and respect the actual experts on Autism, and then evolve in our practices so we may promote total communication on our clients’ terms, and advocate for inclusion and acceptance across all settingswithout mandatory compliance and masking. We observe Autism Acceptance Month in April.”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/1960500990690048

Facebook. 19, July 2018
“SLP Neurodiversity Collective has strong ethical concerns and philosophical differences regarding ABA practices and claims made by recognized leaders in ABA, and because we have listened to the #actuallyautistic communities, we (the founding members) collectively made the decision to adapt our therapy practices with the primary goal of respecting Autistic and other Neurodiverse voices, opinions and experiences.
We do not “treat autism.” because there is no cure, and it doesn’t need to be cured; and forcing an Autistic person to “appear neurotypical” is abusive. We treat our clients with dignity so we do not mandate compliance and we do not “do therapy” using Scooby snacks, checkmarks, behavior charts, or stickers. We NEVER use aversion therapy (punishment) or withhold a favored food, activity or object in order to get compliance. We don’t train children like pigeons, chickens or dogs.
We are absolutely appalled and horrified that the BACB has not firmly and completely rejected any and all electric shock treatment at the Judge Rotenburg Center.
We do not force-feed. We do not quash stimming and we do not ever use aversion tactics, even to quash self-harm stims. We do not steal childhoods from Autistic children via requiring 20+ – 40 hours of therapy per week, because Autistic children need downtime to do whatever they want, just the same as neurotypical children.
We presume competence in every client. We speak, interact and treat our autistic clients the same as we do any other client. We accept all forms of communication and we do not presume that every client will be, or even wants to be, verbal. © July 19,  2018”

https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/2144167628990049

Facebook. 8, November 2018
Roberts, J./Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. “…to pledge to not write therapy goals to “treat autism” (masking).”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/2378249335581876

Facebook. 29, January 2019
“SLP Neurodiversity Collective’s speech-language pathologists do not “treat autism.” Nor do we write masking or compliance goals for our neurodiverse clients. We provide access to various communication forms, strategies, and tools attuned to individual client needs and preferences; we believe behavior is one of many forms of communication. We presume competence.”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/2546552358751572

Facebook. 28, March 2019.
“We prioritize emotional well-being over everything else. ~ SLP Neurodiversity Collective”
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/2673596426047164

Facebook. 17, September 2019
“SLPs – Don’t look away. This is child abuse. This child is clearly saying “let me go.” What he’s “learning:”

  • My body is not my own. Others may physically manipulate me at their will.
  • I have no power to refuse or to say no or to say stop.
  • I must spend hours of my childhood complying with stupid, pointless, meaningless tasks.
  • My communication attempts are going to be ignored. I am not worthy of being heard.
  • I am not worthy of trauma-free therapy.
  • I am not worthy of being treated with dignity.
  • I have no human rights, no voice and no protectors.


ABA fence-sitting SLPs – would you treat a neurotypical child like this? What about your own child? What about your dog?”

https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3121358041270998

Facebook. 28, October 2019.
“The SLP Neurodiversity Collective has strong ethical concerns and philosophical differences pertaining to the use of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) on human beings, including ABA-derived therapy models. Our members pledge to provide therapy in manners that uphold the dignity of the individual while promoting self-determination. We are troubled that ABA is performed on pediatric, adult, and elderly populations without consent from the humans on the receiving end.


We listen to and respect Autistic and other Neurodivergent voices. Our therapists do not “treat autism.” Coercing a neurodivergent person to “normalize” through masking is disrespectful and can cause substantial trauma.


Our therapists provide barrier-free access to AAC with no prerequisites.
We do not force compliance through the earning of snacks, checkmarks, behavior charts, stickers, access to favorite toys, activities, or similar. We completely reject aversion therapy (punishment) for any situation, including withholding attention or affection, favored foods, activities, or objects. We don’t train human beings like pigeons, chickens, or dogs.
Regarding ABA aversion therapy – We are appalled and horrified that the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) chooses to condone painful electric shock aversion therapy at the Judge Rotenberg Center, which the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has condemned. It is disturbing to us that ABA allows for the “ethical” use of punishment. (See section 4.08 in the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts.)
We do not force-feed children, patients with dementia, or those with other neurological or cognitive decline or injury. Compulsory feeding is abusive and traumatic and poses significant physical, emotional, and psychological risks.
We do not suppress stimming or echolalia, force eye contact, or require “whole body listening.” We do not steal childhoods from children via 20–40 hours of ABA per week. Autistic and other neurodivergent children deserve unstructured free time, just the same as neurotypical children.
We presume competence in every client and patient. We speak and interact with disabled and/or non-verbal people the same as any other clients and patients we serve. We accept all forms of communication and we do not presume that every person will be, or even wants to be verbal. © October 2019.”

https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/3245323392207795

Facebook. 21, January 2021
This first video in a series of podcasts discusses respective experimental research on the phenomenon of “double-empathy” – bridging the gap in understanding between autistic and non-autistic people.
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective therapists DO NOT train neurotypical social skills. We use the research from:
The Double Empathy Problem
Diversity in Social Intelligence
Autistic Masking
https://youtu.be/TY1FBvJpzW8

Facebook. 12, February 2021
What Do New Findings About Social Interaction in Autistic Adults Mean for Neurodevelopmental Research? “Our understanding of autism is changing, with increasing evidence suggesting that social difficulties are at least in part bidirectional. By understanding the mechanisms behind positive autism-specific interactions, we can make a real-world difference on both the support and practice autistic people receive and the public understanding of autism. Bringing neurodiversity to the forefront of research by implementing richer, inclusive methodologies and participatory approaches could provide a bold reconceptualization of social abilities in neurodivergent individuals. Challenging the status quo of social cognition could lead to a paradigm shift in our understanding not only of autism but also a range of neurodivergences and highlight the need to consider how we describe and measure other psychologically defined conditions. Recognizing and embracing the neurodiversity model within scientific research and adopting research frameworks that focus on difference, not deficit, allows the research community to explore meaningful questions that will improve the lives of neurodivergent people”
Davis R, Crompton CJ. What Do New Findings About Social Interaction in Autistic Adults Mean for Neurodevelopmental Research? Perspectives on Psychological Science. February 2021. doi:10.1177/1745691620958010
https://journals.sagepub.com/…/10.1177/1745691620958010
(3,815 impressions, 133 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5134882366585212

Facebook. 13, February 2021
“Therapist Neurodiversity Collective Members exercise an absolute rejection of social skills training programs.  We receive a vast number of questions about our ‘Social Skills Training’ position from therapists, parents, and educators alike. Here’s our rationale:
“Therapist Neurodiversity Collective understands that communication is a multi-way process and that the onus should not be placed solely on Autistic people to repair communication differences. Autistic (and more broadly neurodivergent) people communicate differently than neurotypical people. And yet we therapists (and the world) often expect them to change their communication styles, to make adjustments, and to comply with often confusing spoken and unspoken rules of social interaction. We don’t’ train social skills because we know that diversity in social intelligence is natural and viable…”https://therapistndc.org/therapy/social-skills-therapy/
(4,324 impressions, 465 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5142286609178121

Facebook. 18, February 2021
GROWING EVIDENCE AGAINST SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING:
“Efforts to improve the social success of autistic adolescents and adults have often focused on teaching them ways to think and behave more like their non-autistic peers and to hide the characteristics that define them as autistic. Psychology researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas, however, have been focusing on another approach: promoting understanding and acceptance of autism among non-autistic people.”
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective members DON’T TRAIN NEUROTYPICAL SOCIAL SKILLS. https://www.utdallas.edu/…/autism-biases-study-2021/
(10,258 impressions, 1951 engagements)
https://www.facebook.com/NeurodiversityCollective/posts/5163373950402720

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective – Neurodiversity-Affirming Infographics
Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP (2019 – 2021)

(Please respect copyright ©, accrediting therapist organization ethics codes, and intellectual property laws. Please do not adapt and use anything on this website in for-profit endeavors, do not copy, edit our materials or resources, and appropriate the work as your own. Please do not add your logo to our free materials, and do not appropriate and fail to credit Therapist Neurodiversity Collective’s copyrighted work in educational events, articles, blogs, etc., or fail to credit us as the source at any time.) Read Terms of Use

Links to Free pdf Downloads:
8 Signs of a Respectful Therapist 
Ableism White
Ableism Black
Perspective-Taking
Self Advocacy
We don’t train social skills
ADHD & RSD
Why We Don’t Use Social Thinking® (or any commercial Social Skills programs
IEP Makeovers for Neurodivergent Students
IEP Makeovers Part 2
Terms therapists should know
Parent’s Guide to ABA Therapy
Collective Membership Commitment
How to Be an Ableist Therapist
Eye Contact Goals
ABA Therapy in Skilled Nursing Homes
The Double Empathy Problem
Consumer Beware
Diversity in Social Intelligence
Contrasting Therapy Approaches
Social Skills Training & The Research
Learn Neurodiversity Terminology
Shocking Pro-Neurodiversity Therapy Practices
Question of the Day – Setting Boundaries
Be Aware of These Buzz Phrases
SLP vs BCBA
Relevant Themes in Institutional Racialisation in Autism and Research Practice
Explicit and Implicit Biases Toward Autism
A Conceptual Analysis of Autistic Masking_ Understanding the Narrative of Stigma and the Illusion of Choice
Social Cognition, Social Skill, and Social Motivation Minimally Predict Social Interaction Outcomes for Autistic and Non-Autistic Adults
You might be an ableist therapist if
ABA has not changed
ABA_PTSD
MINDSET
We don’t treat Autism
We Practice Like This
The Tone Police

 
Monotropism Implications for practice: "The biggest practical thing to take away from this is the importance of meeting the child, or adult, where they are." What is monotropism? Atypical strategies for the allocation of attention including social interactions, the use of language, and the shifting of the object of attention - a central core Autistic feature. Good Therapy Practices Work with interests and passions Avoid the ableist practice of pathologizing a person's focused interests; intense focus is indispensable in various fields such as science, math, technology, music Understand that it's extremely difficult, anxiety-producing, and even frustrating for a monotropic brain to shift focus when the person is in a flow state Become part of attention tunnels, rather than focused on pulling the person out of their flow states Help maintain a sense of safety, stability, and routine Monotropic interest system: Monotropism also suggests a reason for the sensory integration difficulties found in the accounts of autistic people, as they suggest there is a ‘hyper-awareness’ of phenomena within the attentional tunnel, but hypo-sensitivity to phenomena outside of it. Also, that an interest in the social world may not occur in the early years of life. A different cognitive style: "In a nutshell, monotropism is the tendency for our interests to pull us in more strongly than most people. It rests on a model of the mind as an ‘interest system’: we are all interested in many things, and our interests help direct our attention. Different interests are salient at different times. In a monotropic mind, fewer interests tend to be aroused at any time, and they attract more of our processing resources, making it harder to deal with things outside of our current attention tunnel." References: Murray, Dinah & Lesser, Mike & Lawson, Wendy. (2005). Attention, monotropism and the diagnostic criteria for autism. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. 9. 139-56. 10.1177/1362361305051398. Milton, Damian (2012) So what exactly is autism? . Autism Education Trust, 15 pp. Online article. (KAR id:62698) - Fergus Murray (2018) https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-32/august-2019/me-and-monotropism-unified-theory-autism
Image Description: Neurodiversity Affirming or Neurodiversity Lite? A neurodiversity-affirming approach doesn't "treat Autism". Autism is NOT a disease, a medical injury, a behavioral problem. Definition of Intervention "Action taken to improve a situation, especially a medical disorder. An occasion on which a person with an addiction or other behavioral problem is confronted by a group of friends or family members in an attempt to persuade them to address the issue. Left side of poster: Presume Competence Neurodiversity Affirming Human Rights, respectful, empathetic, informed Right side of poster: The Expert Knows What's Best Neurodiversity Lite Performative, appropriate neurodiversity for $$$ Left side of poster: Neurodivergent-Affirming therapists don't treat autism (Autism Intervention). Both, Autistic lived experiences and contemporary research tell us it's unethical to write goals with outcomes for "normalization" through teaching/training autistic people to hide their autistic traits. (The Double Empathy Problem, Diversity in Social Intelligence, Monotropism, Autistic Masking & Camouflage) Autistic people are capable of learning, growing, and developing, just like all people do when well-supported. * Neurodivergent-Affirming Therapy Goals: Improve quality of life as determined by client, not the therapist. Effective and robust communication, self-determination, self-advocacy, access to supports. Informed consent and refusal of consent is provided at all times. Client's "no" is always respected and honored. Autistic play is authentic play. Autistic play is functional for autistic people. Research and autistic lived experiences tell us that training Autistic people to perform with Neurotypical social skills Just doesn't work. (Research & Lived Experiences) Enforces masking, leading to depression, loss of identity, chronic anxiety, suicidal ideation. Is dehumanizing, demeaning, elitist, and ableist. Goals: Present neutral information for navigating social interactions, and interpreting social situations Advocacy: Teach perspective taking about differences in social communication The Double Empathy Problem Validate Autistic social diversity Train Neurotypicals to accept Autistic social differences. Right side of poster: Therapist "Autism Expert" who Treats Autism, performs Autism Intervention Buy my expen$ive "Neurodiversity" master class, handbook, video training, CEU event on how to treat Autism, or Autism Intervention/Behaviors. Led by an allistic (non-autistic) therapist who knows somebody who is autistic - a child, family member, friend, etc. who will teach you how to understand autism. Uses neurodiversity lingo & the buzzwords although not always correctly. ABA is considered "controversial" (but not unethical, immoral, a violation of human rights) Compliance/behavioral based, treating "autistic behaviors" Trains/sells products for Social Skills training Therapy to reduce sensory responses through toleration, exposure, extinction. Therapy goals for play, socialization/social engagement, reduction/extinction of stimming, table "readiness" "Learning to learn"* "We all have to do things we don't like." "They have to function in the real world." "Autistic play is authentic play," but... let's shape it and make it functional, meaningful, purposeful, imaginative, social, "more fun". "Respect neurodiversity", but... Teach your autistic clients how "to have meaningful relationships, theory of mind, increase empathy, accept responsibility for and fix their communication breakdowns, their social awkwardness, socially engage appropriately, sit at a table or in a circle to learn, at even a young age. Reduce movement. Use their interests, hobbies, and activities as rewards for compliance or social skills training intervention. Modify/change autistic social communication traits to appear "normal", help them "blend". Adapted from Autistic Self Advocacy Network's "For Whose Benefit? Evidence, Ethics, and Effectiveness of Autism Interventions" - 2021 https://autisticadvocacy.org/policy/briefs/intervention-ethics/ © 2021 Therapist Neurodiversity Collective - A Collective for Neurodiversity-Affirming Therapists

Free printable neurodiversity-affirming posters
Julie Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP (2019 – 2022)

(Please respect copyright ©, accrediting therapist organization ethics codes, and intellectual property laws. Please do not adapt and use anything on this website in for-profit endeavors, do not copy, edit our materials or resources, and appropriate the work as your own. Please do not add your logo to our free materials, and do not appropriate and fail to credit Therapist Neurodiversity Collective’s copyrighted work in educational events, articles, blogs, etc., or fail to credit us as the source at any time.) Read Terms of Use

Neurodiversity Affirming or Neurodiversity Lite?

Monotropism

We don’t treat Autism

Empathetic & Respectful Therapy

References:


Milton, Damian (2012) On the ontological status of autism: the ‘double empathy problem’. Disability & Society, 27 (6). pp. 883-887. ISSN 0968-7599.

Roberts, J. Therapist Neurodiversity Collective website. (2019- 2022) https://therapistndc.org/

Sasson, N., Faso, D., Nugent, J. et al. Neurotypical Peers are Less Willing to Interact with Those with Autism based on Thin Slice Judgments. Sci Rep 7, 40700 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep40700

For Whose Benefit? Evidence, Ethics, and Effectiveness of Autism InterventionsAutistic Self Advocacy Network. (2021, December). Retrieved January 2022, from https://autisticadvocacy.org/policy/briefs/intervention-ethics/

Rose, K. The Inside of Autism, (2021): https://theautisticadvocate.com/onlinelearning/

Kristen Bottema-Beutel, Steven K. Kapp, Jessica Nina Lester, Noah J. Sasson, and Brittany N. Hand.Autism in Adulthood.Mar 2021.18-29.http://doi.org/10.1089/aut.2020.0014

Explicit Associations with Autism and Disability. Jennifer L. Stevenson and Theresa G. Mowad. Autism in Adulthood 2019 1:4, 258-267

Gillespie-Lynch, K., Kapp, S., Brooks, P., Pickens, J., & Schwartzman, B. (2017). Whose Expertise Is It? Evidence for Autistic Adults as Critical Autism Experts. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. Brown, L Identity-First Language (2011) Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/identity-first-language/

Fletcher, S. 2020, June 3. Neurodiverse or Neurodivergent? It’s more than just grammar. The University of Edinburgh. https://dart.ed.ac.uk/neurodiverse-or-neurodivergent/

Doyle N. Neurodiversity at work In: BPS, ed Psychology At Work:Improving Wellbeing and Productivity in the Workplace. Leicester: British Psychological Society; 2017:44–62. ISBN 978-1-85433-754-2 

Leblanc, Linda A et al. “Expanding the consumer base for behavior-analytic services: meeting the needs of consumers in the 21st century.” Behavior analysis in practice vol. 5,1 (2012): 4-14. doi:10.1007/BF03391813

The Autistic Collaboration Trust (Ed.). (2022, January 6). Introduction to autistic ways of being. Autistic Collaboration. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://autcollab.org/deep-innovation/introduction-to-autistic-ways-of-being/

Mallipeddi, N., & VanDaalen, R. (0). Intersectionality Within Critical Autism Studies: A Narrative Review. Autism in Adulthood, 0(0), null.

Singh JS, Bunyak G. Autism Disparities: A Systematic Review and Meta-Ethnography of Qualitative Research. Qualitative Health Research. 2019;29(6):796-808. doi:10.1177/1049732318808245

van Schalkwyk, G.I. At the Intersection of Neurodiversity and Gender Diversity. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 3973 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3735-2

Farquhar-Leicester, A. (2021). The Intersection of Transgender and Gender-Diverse Identity and Neurodiversity: An Application of Minority Stress Theory. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/embargotheses/208/

Mette. (2020, June 17). I’m an autistic, mixed race woman – let’s discuss intersectionality. LDT (Learning Disability Today).  https://www.learningdisabilitytoday.co.uk/im-an-autistic-mixed-race-woman-lets-discuss-intersectionality

ObeySumner, C. (2018, December 6).
Black Autistics Exist: An Argument for Intersectional Disability Justice. South Seattle Emerald.
https://southseattleemerald.com/2018/12/05/intersectionality-what-it-means-to-be-autistic-femme-and-black/

Mandell DS, Wiggins LD, Carpenter LA, et al. Racial/ethnic disparities in the identification of children with autism spectrum disorders. Am J Public Health. 2009;99(3):493-498. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.131243

Giwa Onaiwu, Morénike (2020) “I, Too, Sing Neurodiversity,” Ought: The Journal of Autistic Culture: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 10.
Available at: https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/ought/vol2/iss1/10

Kerns CM, Lankenau S, Shattuck PT, Robins DL, Newschaffer CJ, Berkowitz SJ. Exploring potential sources of childhood trauma: A qualitative study with autistic adults and caregivers. Autism. January 2022. doi:10.1177/13623613211070637

McLaren, Karla. (2014). Interrogating Normal: Autism Social Skills Training at the Margins of a Social Fiction. 10.13140/2.1.1385.0406.

Solomon, O. (2010). Sense and the senses: Anthropology and the study of autism. Annual Review of Anthropology, 39, 241-259

Solomon, O., & Bagatell, N. (2010). Introduction: Autism: Rethinking the possibilities. Ethos38(1), 1-7.

Researchers sought to assess evidence for psychoeducational interventions for autistic children, but were unable to, due to the overall weak evidentiary basis of ABA and other early intervention research. “Across intervention types, there were too few high-quality studies for us to compute reliable statistics.”

Bottema-Beutel, K., Crowley, S., Sandbank, M. and Woynaroski, T.G. (2021), Research Review: Conflicts of Interest (COIs) in autism early intervention research – a meta-analysis of COI influences on intervention effects. J. Child Psychol. Psychiatr., 62: 5-15. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13249

Reichow B, Hume K, Barton EE, Boyd BA. Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) for young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD009260. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009260.pub3

Crank, J. E., Sandbank, M., Dunham, K., Crowley, S., Bottema-Beutel, K., Feldman, J., & Woynaroski, T. (2021). Understanding the Effects of Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions: A Project AIM Meta-analysis. Autism Research, 14(4), 817-834.

Bottema-Beutel K, Crowley S, Sandbank M, Woynaroski TG. Adverse event reporting in intervention research for young autistic children. Autism. 2021;25(2):322-335. doi:10.1177/1362361320965331

Neufeld J, Taylor MJ, Lundin Remnélius K, Isaksson J, Lichtenstein P, Bölte S. A co-twin-control study of altered sensory processing in autism. Autism. 2021;25(5):1422-1432. doi:10.1177/1362361321991255

Stevenson, R.A., Ruppel, J., Sun, S.Z. et al. Visual working memory and sensory processing in autistic children. Sci Rep 11, 3648 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82777-1

Elizabeth K. Jones, Mary Hanley, & Deborah M. Riby (2020). Distraction, distress, and diversity: Exploring the impact of sensory processing differences on learning and school life for pupils with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 72, 101515.

Distinct Patterns of Neural Habituation and Generalization in Children and Adolescents With Autism With Low and High Sensory Overresponsivity
Shulamite A. Green, Leanna Hernandez, Katherine E. Lawrence, Janelle Liu, Tawny Tsang, Jillian Yeargin, Kaitlin Cummings, Elizabeth Laugeson, Mirella Dapretto, and Susan Y. Bookheimer
American Journal of Psychiatry 2019 176:12, 1010-1020

Fletcher-Watson S, Bird G. Autism and empathy: What are the real links? Autism. 2020;24(1):3-6. doi:10.1177/1362361319883506

Song, Youming et al. “Empathy Impairment in Individuals With Autism Spectrum Conditions From a Multidimensional Perspective: A Meta-Analysis.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 10 1902. 9 Oct. 2019, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01902

Nicolaidis, C., Milton, D., Sasson, N., Sheppard, E., & Yergeau, M. (2019). An Expert Discussion on Autism and Empathy. Autism in Adulthood, 1(1),
Rieffe C, O’Connor R, Bülow A, et al. Quantity and quality of empathic responding by autistic and non-autistic adolescent girls and boys. Autism. 2021;25(1):199-209. doi:10.1177/1362361320956422

Gernsbacher MA, Yergeau M. Empirical Failures of the Claim That Autistic People Lack a Theory of Mind. Arch Sci Psychol. 2019;7(1):102-118. doi:10.1037/arc0000067

Mutual (Mis)understanding: Reframing Autistic Pragmatic “Impairments” Using Relevance Theory Citation: Williams GL, Wharton T and Jagoe C (2021) Mutual (Mis)understanding: Reframing Autistic Pragmatic “Impairments” Using Relevance Theory. Front. Psychol. 12:616664. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.616664

Yergeau, M. (2013). Clinically significant disturbance: On theorists who theorize theory of mind. Disability Studies Quarterly, 33(4). Retrieved from https://dsq-sds.org/article/view/3876/3405

The Sally-Anne test. Baron-Cohen, Simon; Leslie, Alan M.; Frith, Uta (October 1985). “Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind”

Jones, D., Morrison, K., DeBrabander, K., Ackerman, R., Pinkham, A., & Sasson, N. (2021). Greater Social Interest Between Autistic and Non-autistic Conversation Partners Following Autism Acceptance Training for Non-autistic People. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 4026.

Morrison KE, DeBrabander KM, Jones DR, Faso DJ, Ackerman RA, Sasson NJ. Outcomes of real-world social interaction for autistic adults paired with autistic compared to typically developing partners. Autism. 2020; 24(5):1067-1080. doi:10.1177/1362361319892701

Crompton CJ, Ropar D, Evans-Williams CV, Flynn EG, Fletcher-Watson S. Autistic peer-to-peer information transfer is highly effective. Autism. 2020; 24(7):1704-1712. doi:10.1177/1362361320919286

Murray D, Lesser M, Lawson W. Attention, monotropism and the diagnostic criteria for autism. Autism. 2005;9(2):139-156. doi:10.1177/1362361305051398

Murray D. (2018) Monotropism – An Interest Based Account of Autism. In: Volkmar F. (eds) Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102269-

Me and Monotropism: A unified theory of autism (Murray 2019):
https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/me-and-monotropism-unified-theory-autism

Williams, Gemma L et al. “Mutual (Mis)understanding: Reframing Autistic Pragmatic “Impairments” Using Relevance Theory.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 12 616664. 29 Apr. 2021, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.616664

Pearson, A., & Rose, K. (2021). A Conceptual Analysis of Autistic Masking: Understanding the Narrative of Stigma and the Illusion of Choice.

Kolves, K., Fitzgerald, C., Nordentoft, M., Wood, S. J., & Erlangsen, A. (2021). Assessment of suicidal behaviors among individuals with autism spectrum disorder in Denmark. JAMA Network Open, 4(1), e2033565. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.33565

Kõlves K, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021; doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.33565.

Hull, L., Levy, L., Lai, MC. et al. Is social camouflaging associated with anxiety and depression in autistic adults?. Molecular Autism 12, 13 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13229-021-00421-1

South M, Costa AP, McMorris C. Death by Suicide Among People With Autism: Beyond Zebrafish. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(1):e2034018. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.34018

Mitchell, P., Sheppard, E. and Cassidy, S. (2021), Autism and the double empathy problem: Implications for development and mental health. Br J Dev Psychol, 39: 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjdp.12350