Bio Kristina House has been as an active member of the Toronto homeschool community for more than a decade, including work through the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents and as a co-founder of the Toronto Homeschool Symposium. She worked as an American Sign Language in English Interpreter for over 15 years and is now the executive director ofPassages, a learning space founded in 2020. Passages offers in-person programming for kids between the ages of 11–18, learning at a pace that’s right for them.
This is pt 1 of 2 special podcasts about monkeypox, Covid-19 and science communication.
I had an amazing conversation with University of Washington virologist Dr Alex Greninger, whose team innovated one of the earliest Covid tests. We talked about how they developed the test; public health policy; the current monkeypox crisis; other viruses & “the 2022 effect”; and the virological and sociological implications of the pandemic since 2020.
Listen to the podcast on the audio link below. Also available on Spotify, Stitcher or iTunes.
Dr Greninger is the Larry Corey Assistant Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Assistant Director of the clinical virology laboratories at the University of Washington Medical Center, and a board-certified clinical pathologist. He earned an MS in Biological Sciences/Immunology from Stanford, a Master’s in Epidemiology from Cambridge, an MD/PhD from University of California San Francisco, and completed his laboratory medicine residency at the University of Washington.
My guest this episode is Alicia Broderick, author of the new book The Autism Industrial Complex: How Branding, Marketing, and Capital Investment Turned Autism Into Big Business. Her book traces the cultural, political, and economic history of autism. We talk about the history of autism services, how industry greed often gets in the way of useful approaches that can help families and some advice for families of newly diagnosed kids on how to find the best approaches and sift through all the hype.
Listen to the podcast by pressing Play on the audio file below. Also available on Spotify, Stitcher or iTunes. Read the transcript at the link below the audio file
In this episode I speak with the amazing Lei Wiley Mydske, founder of the neurodiversity library movement and creator of the Neurodivergent Narwals. We talk about neurodiversity libraries (including how to start one!), community-building, disability justice, activism, hope and more.
Listen to the podcast at the link below. Also available on Spotify, Stitcher or iTunes.
Lei is a writer and artist, creator of the Neurodivergent Narwhals, co-director of neurodiversitylibrary.org, and founder of the neurodiversity library movement. They are the Community Outreach Coordinator at the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network and a contributor to the group’s anthology “Sincerely, Your Autistic Child”. Lei has presented at a range of conferences and gatherings on autistic advocacy and neurodiversity libraries in the community. Lei is the co-owner of Stanwood Tattoo Company in Stanwood Washington, which also hosts a neurodiversity library.
There were a couple tech glitches in this episode, apologies!
Noncompliant is mostly on hiatus until 2023.
The Noncompliant podcast came out of hiatus this week to talk with autistic advocate Ryan Hendry about Spectrum10K, a currently-proposed project by UK business interests to collect DNA data on autistic children and adults for a database to sell to companies for commercial ventures. Ryan and I discussed the ethical implications of the project and others like it. We also talked about activism being welcoming to new members of the community.
Ryan is a 27 year old Autistic and ADHD advocate from Carrick fergus, Northern Ireland. Whilst Ryan’s advocacy covers a wide range of topics relating to Autism and ADHD, he is particularly focused upon the issues that Autistic People face when finding employment, as well as issues that particularly affect young people between the ages of 16-21.
Anila D’Mello is a cognitive neuroscientist interested in social cognition and language. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she uses neuro imaging to examine how the brain learns from previous experiences to inform future behavior. She also uses personalized study designs to promote strengths-based approaches to studying social cognition and language in autism.
Liron Rozenkrantz is a neuroscientist interested in the role of beliefs and expectations on cognition and well-being. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Simons Center for the Social Brain and conducts her research at the MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department. Liron has been studying perception and cognition in children and adults with autism for the past 7 years. Her current line of research looks at “enhanced rationality” in autism and how autistic individuals seem to be less susceptible to cognitive biases.
In this episode, I talk with Professors Kristen Bottema-Beutel and Micheal Sandbank, who have done a systematic review and meta-analysis of 151 group design studies of interventions for young autistic children. For this work, Dr. Sandbank was awarded the Young Investigator Award in 2021 from the International Society of Autism Research. Drs Bottema-Beutel and Sandbank have also done further studies into conflicts of interest (COIs) in autism research. Among their findings are that COIs are prevalent in several areas of autism research. They also found that ABA researchers, who frequently had conflicts of interest, reported these conflicts as rarely as 2 percent of the time.
We discuss what conflicts of interest are, the teams’ findings and some of the implications for autism research going forward.
Listen to the audio at the link below or on Stitcher or iTunes here. Read the transcript, below audio file.
Kristen Bottema-Beutel is an Associate Professor in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. Her research focuses on social and language development, and social interaction dynamics in autistic children and youth. She is interested in pairing qualitative and quantitative methods to better characterize autistic communication and sociality, and in developing community-based strategies to support meaningful engagement of autistic students. More recently, she has explored metascience topics such as researcher ethics and research quality in intervention research for autistic children. Dr. Bottema-Beutel is the director of the autism specialization at LSEHD, a program that prepares future special educators to support autistic students.
Micheal Sandbank is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She researches social communication and language interventions for young children with disabilities. Dr. Sandbank is the lead researcher on Project AIM , a scoping systematic review and meta-analysis of group design studies of interventions for young children on the autism spectrum. She was awarded the Young Investigator Award in 2021 for this work, from the International Society of Autism Research.
In this episode, I talk with Occupational Therapist Greg Santucci about the problems with ABA from his perspective as a practitioner, as well as new and better approaches in schools and the challenges of the post-pandemic period in education. An interesting and inspiring conversation!
Greg Santucci is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the Founding Director of Power Play Pediatric Therapy. He has been an OT for over 20 years, and currently is a Supervisor of Occupational Therapy at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey. Greg is the creator of the Model of Child Engagement and has been lecturing nationally for over a decade on topics related to sensory processing, child development, behavior and best practices in the public schools. He has dedicated his career to promoting neurodevelopmentally-informed, relationship-based interventions to help parents and teachers support children of all abilities and learning styles.
Biography:John Summers is Founder and President of Lingua Franca Media, Inc. He has a Ph.D. in intellectual history and has written, taught and presented extensively on topics in culture and history. His recent expose in The Nation looks at relationships between private equity companies and a form of autism service: Applied Behaviour Analytics (or ABA).
Eric Garcia is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. His first book We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation is coming out in August 2021. Eric previously worked at The Washington Post, The Hill, Roll Call, National Journal and MarketWatch. His new book uses his life as a springboard to discuss the social and policy gaps that exist in supporting autistic people. It looks at politics; education; employment; independent living; relationships/sexuality; gender; race and the future of the neurodiversity movement.
In this podcast, I interviewed Melissa Eaton, one of the first (and most effective) campaigners against autism pseudoscience. We talked about phony autism cures and what we can all do to stop the people selling them.
Listen to the podcast right here by clicking the audio link below. Listen to this episode on Stitcher here Listen to this episode oniTunes here
Bio: Melissa Eaton, a parent of an autistic child, became aware autistic children were being abused with harmful pseudoscientific and unregulated treatments in 2014, after her son was diagnosed. She joined other activists who were campaigning against it and she is one of the key figures in the movement to get phony MMS “bleach for autism” treatments banned, among others. Her work has beenfeatured on NBCand other media and she recently co-wrote an OpEd for the New York Times about the impact of MMS marketers on the Covid crisis.
In this episode, I talk with Matt Brignall, ND, about how the natural health movement has been co-opted over the past 3 decades by capitalist interests, as well as what we can all do to counter Covid pseudoscience and antivax.
Listen to the podcast here by clicking the audio link below. Listen to this episode onStitcher here
Listen to this episode on iTunes here
Bio: Matt Brignall, ND is a naturopathic doctor in Tacoma, Washington. He currently works in a community-based primary care practice. For nearly 20 years, he was a professor in the naturopathic training program at Bastyr University. He left because he felt that the alternative medicine community was losing its ethical bearings, and becoming a threat to individual and public health. In addition to his practice, he is currently working as part of the Medical Reserve Corps COVID-19 response team. Matt is the parent of a 20-year-old daughter with Rett syndrome, and is active in disability advocacy.
This is a fascinating interview with Alfie Kohn, who has been researching and writing about education, parenting, authority and co-operative learning for years, driving home a simple fact: rewards and punishment are two sides of the same coin –and they’re not helping us to raise the kind of children we say we want to raise.
“The problem with ABA,” says Kohn, “is not just with the method, but with the goal. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that when these kids grow up they are struggling to try to figure out how to make decisions, be assertive and advocate for themselves …because the whole precondition for the temporarily effective use of rewards is the opposite of independence—it’s dependence.”
Bio: Alfie Kohn is an expert on the problem of compliance-training and reward-based systems in the schools, the work world and in the family. His many books include the classics PUNISHED BY REWARDS (1993) and BEYOND DISCIPLINE: From Compliance to Community in which he explores alternatives to our merit-based approach at work and school. He has also critically examined the influence of behaviorism on our education system and the power of cooperative learning, altruism and empathy.
In this podcast, Gaby and I discussed racism in the education system, the disability hierarchy, media bias and representations of the self-advocacy movement, eye contact and cultural norms, the power of social media, the situation in Ontario and more!
Bio: Gaby received her BA in Biological Anthropology from the University of Toronto. In addition to contributing to the critically-acclaimed anthology “All The Weight of our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism,” Gaby is one of the founding members of Autistics for Autistics Ontario, the first provincial autistic self-advocacy group in Ontario and an international affiliate of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
Her work includes programs to educate health providers on autistic patient experiences and needs, employment accessibility outreach and communications with the governments of Ontario and Canada to reform autism policy. In addition to being diagnosed autistic in early adulthood, she also holds other identities such as being multiply neurodivergent and the first in her family to attend university in Canada.
The Episode: In this podcast, Gaby and I talk about racism, ableism and the overlapping oppressions faced by her family as newcomers to Canada in dealing with schools, the autism services system and higher education. Despite the Government of Canada’s official rhetoric about diversity, Canadian schools and service organizations continue to marginalize newcomers, failing at effective outreach for services, discouraging children from speaking their language of origin and operating community services without meaningful inclusion of people of Colour. Students of Colour are still targeted disproportionately for disciplinary actions and overtly or tacitly streamed out of the path to higher education.
“The social workers, the City workers, anyone behind the front desk did not look like me—or like any other resident in the community they were supposed to be serving.”
While positive models exist in other jurisdictions (supported decision-making, the money-follows-the-person model, independent supported living, school inclusion) somehow Ontario’s system isn’t yet being reformed in any meaningful way. This episode is very connected to what’s happening here—and also part a much longer, on-going discussion within disability rights and autistic self-advocacy towards addressing bias within our own organizations. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
Resources All the Weight of Our Dreams explores intersectional oppression and realities for autistics of Colour, and it is a must-read, in a world that is too often white-washed and centred on an imagined norm (neurotypicality). Ordering info below:
In this broad-ranging interview, Dr. Damian Milton & I discuss the theory of the “double empathy problem”; hyperfocus/flow state; autistic parenting; the medical versus social model of disability; the subjectivity of outcome measures; and the diverse ways in which autism itself is framed and defined.
Listen to the interview at the audio link below or on Stitcher here or iTunes here Read the transcript below the audio file.
Dr. Damian Milton is a sociologist and lecturer at the University of Kent, on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities through the Tizard Centre. He is also a consultant for the National Autistic Society in the UK, a Director at the National Autism Task Force, Chair of the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC Network) and involved in many other research and practice related projects. His most recent book is A Mismatch of Salience: Explorations in Autism Theory and Practice. His scholarship is central to a paradigm shift to understandings of autism in the field.
“”There’s a lot of people out there who are going to try and tell you what your kid needs, but really, autistic people are the ones who actually do know.”
I had a fascinating conversation with Shannon Rosa, co-founder and editor of The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, about parenting, autism pseudoscience and autistic acceptance. Our conversation, which wandered between the personal and the political, circled back to the core messages of equity, compassion and inclusion.
I recently talked with Sam Himelstein, the president of the Center for Adolescent Studies , about the pitfalls of pop-culture “mindfulness” and the importance of trauma-informed care. We also talked about the problems with behaviourist approaches that focus only on measuring outcomes for compliance rather than quality of life.
Bio Sam Himelstein, Ph.D., is a Licensed Psychologist specializing in working with juvenile justice-involved youth, addiction, and trauma. He travels the country speaking at conferences and conducting professional trainings and is the president of the Center for Adolescent Studies. His mission is to help young people become aware of the power of self-awareness and transformation, and train professionals with similar interests.
Michael began stand-up comedy at the age of 13. He has performed stand-up shows, keynote addresses and panel presentations across Canada and the US. He just published the book entitled “Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic” and recently delivered a TEDx Talk on the topic of autism acceptance. He has also consulted on the television show “Ransom” to ensure authenticity of an autistic character and has appeared on CBC television and radio.
Links mentioned in the podcast
Michael’s book: Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic
Canadian Down Syndrome Society: “Anything But Sorry” video
Pablo show: Pablo-Official YouTube channel
Today’s guest is Oswin Latimer, co-founder of Foundations for Divergent Minds, a framework designed by autistic and neurodivergent people for use by families and professionals. FDM works on the principle that when a child struggles it is because their surroundings need to be adjusted–and assessment should find what is missing from their environment. FDM is a portable, affordable approach that is based on equity and access –and in the short time since its launch, it has disrupted the autism services market in a brilliant way, as we discuss in the podcast!
Oswin Latimer is an indigenous, non-binary, Autistic adult, parent to 3 neurodivergent children and a disability advocate. Oswin is a founder of Foundations For Divergent Minds, which we will focus on in this episode. Prior to founding Foundations for Divergent Minds, Oswin was Director of Community Engagement with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and in addition to activist and education projects there, they represented the autistic community to policymakers in the US Departments of Labor, Education, Personnel Management and others.
After leaving ASAN, Oswin spent several years as a disability consultant, advising parents on ways to set up their homes and create individualized education plans that better met their child’s needs. They also compiled and edited Navigating College: A Handbook on Self Advocacy Written for Autistic Students from Autistic Adults, among other projects.
I spoke with human rights activist Cal Montgomery, a survivor of residential institutions and, after institutionalization. Cal describes how the institutional model is replicated in group home settings, even when they have a veneer of independent living. As he observes: “It’s really not that hard to take a program that looks like it supports self-determination and make it all about control. And we see it done every day.”
We talked about the Judge Rotenberg Centre (JRC), a residential institution that has been using shock torture on autistic and IDD residents. Despite some of the difficult subject matter of this podcast, I walked away with a feeling of hope, the kind of hope that is given by shedding a light on truth–one of the many gifts that Cal brings to the movement.
Cal Montgomery is a trans, queer, autistic, physically disabled activist and writer in the United States and a survivor of long-term institutionalization. He is a Director of the Board at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, engages in direct actions and civil disobedience around disability rights issues and is a former member of ADAPT, the US direct-action organization.
Cal is at the forefront of action against the electric shock aversives used at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts, which we talk about in the podcast. Cal is probably best known in the neurodiversity community for his essay “Critic of the Dawn”. In it, he writes: “Disability is injustice, not tragedy; unequal treatment, not inherent inequality.” I highly recommend you check out that essay as well as following Cal’s blog, Watch Well: A Blog about Disability.
“There are far too few schools who operate on the basis of what the research and knowledge have said about restraint and seclusion for decades.”
I spoke with Bruce Uditsky of Inclusion Alberta about the use of restraint and isolation on special education students and the need for tracking, regulation, enforcement and appropriate training in positive strategies, trauma-enforced care, de-escalation and alternatives to teacher violence.
Bruce Uditsky, M.Ed., is the CEO Emeritus of Inclusion Alberta and its former CEO for over 25 years. He is internationally recognized for his leadership and advocacy in social justice and inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families. Bruce is the founder of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education and co-founder of the Rotary Employment Partnerships, both of which have been formally recognized as world-leading innovations. He has consulted and taught in many countries and is the author and co-author of books, chapters and articles on inclusion. He is the parent of two adult sons, one of whom has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and intellectual disabilities.
Bruce is a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities Gary McPherson Leadership Award.
Raya Shields just received her Master’s Degree from York University (Toronto) in the school of Critical Disability Studies. Her master’s thesis focuses on human rights abuses at the Judge Rotenberg Centre. She is autistic, multiply neurodivergent, and queer. For the last 12 years she has been mentoring autistic children and youth. She is currently working on a series of children’s books.
The episode Raya and I talked mainly about her experiences as an autistic mentor. She described what the time spent with her mentees looks like: what they do, how they plan and what comes out of the experience for the youth and for their families. I hope you enjoy this podcast as much as I did. Lots of great ideas and inspiration as we move towards inclusion in our society.