Seven Guiding Principles
Early on in my process of designing my Critical Perspectives on Autism and Neurodiversity course for the undergraduate Interdisciplinary Studies program at California Institute of Integral Studies, I asked myself the question, “What are the most essential and indispensible guiding principles any course on autism must follow, in order to ensure that the course truly remains grounded in the neurodiversity paradigm and avoids inadvertently reinforcing the attitudes of the pathology paradigm on any level?” I eventually developed a list of seven such guiding principles, which have served me quite well and which are here enumerated in the hope that they will be useful to others in creating similar courses.
1. To Hell with “Balance”
A good course on autism (or, for that matter, a good piece of writing on autism, or good education or journalism on autism in any medium) should not attempt to strike any sort of “balance” between the neurodiversity paradigm and the pathology paradigm. The pathology paradigm is simply an outgrowth of cultural ableism and bigotry. Work based in the pathology paradigm has no more scholarly or “scientific” validity than work based in cultural paradigms of racism, misogyny, or homophobia. Like racism, misogyny, and homophobia, the pathology paradigm is just plain wrong. The fact that at this point in history nearly all mainstream academic and professional writing on autism is based in the pathology paradigm doesn’t make it any less wrong. There was a time that nearly all mainstream academic and professional writing on race was racist, and that didn’t make racism valid or right.
NICK WALKER’S NOTES ON NEURODIVERSITY, AUTISM, AND COGNITIVE LIBERTY