Neruodiversity & Disability Rights Advocacy Reading Lists

This is a post I will periodically update based on readings and resources that I become aware of on the topic of Neurodiversity & Disability Rights Advocacy

Neuroqueer Heresies by Dr. Nick Walker

Summary: “Neuroqueer Heresies” is an insightful book that challenges conventional perspectives on neurodivergence and queerness. Dr. Walker, a renowned neurodiversity advocate, explores the intersectionality of these identities and presents a radical critique of societal norms surrounding neurology and sexuality in a variety of different interrelated essays.

In addition to be a fantastic introduction to understanding the neurodiversity movement, the book delves into the concept of neuroqueerness, which challenges the binary understanding of neurodivergent and neurotypical identities. Dr. Walker argues that neuroqueerness embraces the diverse range of neurological experiences, transcending traditional categorizations of “normal” and “abnormal.” By drawing parallels between the struggles faced by neurodivergent and queer individuals, Dr. Walker highlights the shared experiences of marginalization, oppression, and the need for acceptance and understanding.

Throughout “Neuroqueer Heresies,” Dr. Walker presents alternative perspectives and challenges mainstream narratives surrounding neurodivergence and queerness. She encourages readers to question prevailing assumptions, biases, and stigmatization associated with these identities. By reimagining the possibilities and potentials inherent in neurodivergent and queer experiences, Dr. Walker aims to create a more inclusive and compassionate society.

In this groundbreaking work, Dr. Walker combines personal narratives, academic insights, and sociopolitical analysis to challenge the status quo and advocate for a more accepting and embracing society. “Neuroqueer Heresies” invites readers to embrace the diversity of neurology and sexuality and to envision a future where all individuals are valued and celebrated for her unique identities.


Unmasking Autism by Dr. Devon Price

Summary: “Unmasking Autism” is thought-provoking and compassionate book explores the experiences of autistic individuals and challenges prevailing misconceptions about autism. Drawing from their personal experiences as an autistic person and combining it with research and interviews, Dr. Price provides valuable insights into the diverse autistic community.

The book delves into the concept of masking, the practice of camouflaging one’s autistic traits in order to fit into social norms and expectations. Dr. Price argues that masking is not only exhausting and detrimental to mental health but also obscures the true essence and strengths of autistic individuals. They shed light on the immense pressure faced by autistic individuals to conform and the toll it takes on their well-being.

Through engaging storytelling and a blend of personal anecdotes and research, Dr. Price challenges the prevailing pathologizing view of autism. They emphasize the importance of embracing neurodiversity, promoting acceptance, and providing necessary accommodations for autistic individuals to thrive. By debunking stereotypes and dismantling myths, “Unmasking Autism” aims to foster a more inclusive and understanding society.

Furthermore, the book addresses the intersections of autism with other identities such as race, gender, and class. Dr. Price highlights the unique challenges faced by autistic individuals belonging to marginalized communities and advocates for an intersectional approach to understanding and supporting autistic experiences.

Dr. Price not only provides valuable insights into the autistic experience but also offers practical advice for autistic individuals and their allies. The book encourages readers to challenge their own biases, embrace neurodiversity, and work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for autistic individuals.

My only critique of the book is that Dr. Price represents all of ABA as being the type of ABA which was done in early research by people such as O. Ivar Lovaas as well as representing the ABA implemented by Judge Rotenberg Center of using aversive punishers such as skin shock, sensory deprivation, and the like as being a norm in the field of behavior analysis. I believe that this inaccurate representation undermines the extremely powerful point Dr. Price makes, which is that ABA, as it is dominantly implemented (my qualification, not Dr. Price’s), trains masking. I agree with this. Between Dr. Price & Dr. Walker’s work there is a clear pattern of ABA being harmful. Dr. Price’s conclusion is that it is harmful, period. I differ in my perspective because of my understanding of the science behind it. It is when we understand the systems we operate in and how they impact our behaviors that we can see why Dr. Price comes to their conclusion.

Overall, “Unmasking Autism” is a powerful and enlightening book that fosters empathy, understanding, and acceptance for autistic individuals. It serves as a valuable resource for anyone seeking to broaden their knowledge about autism and to create a more inclusive society that celebrates neurodiversity.


Pain and Shock In America by Jan Nisbet & Nancy R. Weiss

Summary: “Pain and Shack In America” is a compelling and eye-opening book that delves into the intersection of politics, disability advocacy, and the controversial treatment of disabilities people. Written by a prominent disability rights advocate, this book sheds light on the systemic issues surrounding the use of painful and shocking treatments in the United States with emphasis on the infamous Judge Rotenberg Center (formerly Behavior Research Institute), located in Canton, Massachusetts.

The book examines the historical context and current practices of aversive treatments, including electric shock and physical restraints, often used on individuals with disabilities. It explores the political landscape and the various stakeholders involved, from lawmakers and policymakers to disability rights activists and organizations. By analyzing case studies and personal narratives, the author uncovers the detrimental effects and ethical implications of these treatments.

Through rigorous research and in-depth analysis, the author presents a comprehensive overview of the controversies and debates surrounding painful and shocking interventions. They highlight the power dynamics at play and the struggle for autonomy and dignity for individuals with disabilities. Moreover, the book explores alternative approaches and advocates for the adoption of evidence-based, person-centered care that respects the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities.

This book challenges the status quo and invites readers to critically examine the prevailing practices and policies in the treatment of people with disabilities. It calls for a reevaluation of societal attitudes and the promotion of inclusive and compassionate approaches to support and empower individuals with disabilities.

This book serves as a call to action, urging readers to engage in disability advocacy, support legislative reforms, and raise awareness about the harmful impact of painful and shocking treatments. By exposing the realities faced by individuals with disabilities and amplifying their voices, the book contributes to a broader conversation about human rights, healthcare ethics, and the need for social change.

In conclusion, “Pain and Shock in America: Politics, Advocacy, and the Controversial Treatment of People with Disabilities” is a painful, horrifying, powerful, and thought-provoking exploration of the intersection of politics, advocacy, and the treatment of individuals with disabilities. It challenges readers to critically examine the current state of affairs and work towards a more just and inclusive society that upholds the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of ability.


Shouting At Leaves by Jennifer Msumba

Summary: “Shouting At Leaves” is a captivating memoir that accompanies the reader on the personal journey of its author, Jennifer, as she grows from childhood to adulthood while navigating life as an autistic individual. Through a blend of humor and grace, the book offers insights into Jennifer’s thoughts and experiences, covering various aspects such as family dynamics, friendships, and the challenges of life.

This book is more than a memior, however. It dives into the horrifying experiences of being a “student” at Judge Rotenberg Center, in Canton, Massachusetts. Despite the horrors she faced, the reader will find themselves cheering her on as she not only survives but ultimately discovers a newfound sense of freedom and joy.

Jennifer said it best when she said, “I have lived through some horrible experiences, all in the name of treatment. But there was one thing I never let those people steal from me, and that was my spirit.”

This book is a must read for any disability rights advocate, as well as for any and all behavior analysts.


NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman

Summary: “NeuroTribes” explores the history, science, and cultural understanding of autism. Through meticulous research and captivating storytelling, Silberman challenges prevailing narratives and sheds light on the diverse experiences of autistic individuals.

The book delves into the historical context of autism, tracing its origins and the evolution of diagnostic criteria. Silberman examines the contributions of key figures and advocates who have shaped our understanding of autism, challenging the notion that it is a recent phenomenon. He also highlights the role of neurodiverse communities and their significant contributions to society throughout history.

Silberman goes beyond the medical model of autism, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and celebrating the strengths and talents of autistic individuals. He challenges misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding autism, promoting the concept of neurodiversity and advocating for acceptance and inclusion.

In “NeuroTribes,” Silberman explores the impact of autism on families, addressing the challenges they face and the need for support systems. He also investigates the role of institutions, education, and the medical establishment in shaping the experiences of autistic individuals.

Throughout the book, Silberman weaves together personal stories, scientific research, and cultural analysis to provide a nuanced understanding of autism. He offers valuable insights into the social and political forces that have shaped the perception of autism and advocates for a more compassionate and inclusive society.

“NeuroTribes” challenges readers to reconsider their preconceived notions about autism and to embrace a more empathetic and accepting approach. It encourages individuals, families, and society at large to recognize the value of neurodiversity and work towards creating a world where autistic individuals can thrive and contribute fully.

In conclusion, “NeuroTribes” is a thought-provoking and enlightening book that offers a comprehensive exploration of autism. It provides readers with a deeper understanding of the history, science, and societal aspects of autism while advocating for acceptance, inclusion, and the celebration of neurodiversity. While it is not comprehensive in its analysis or inclusion of ideas regarding the social or human rights models of disability, it does present vital information on how our view of autism was shaped to what we know and perceive today.




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