On Toxic Positivity

“Saying ‘be positive’ marginalizes and isolates people,” she said. “I’m autistic, I have depression and anxiety and I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD. It’s not realistic to ask me to conform to these very specific, socially valued emotions.”

“If it works for you, it’s not toxic,” she said. “If it makes someone else feel invalidated, it is.”

Source: ‘It’s OK not to be OK’: Minnesota psychologists push back on ‘toxic positivity’ – StarTribune.com

If positive attitude changed everything, we wouldn’t need Universal Design. Precarity, systemic racism, ableism, and heteropatriarchy are built through policy and require changes in policies – not merely mindsets – to topple them. Sometimes we should be outraged and angry.

Judith Halberstam writes about the “toxic positivity of contemporary life”:

“As Barbara Ehrenreich reminds us in Brightsided, positive thinking is a North American affliction, “a mass delusion” that emerges out of a combination of American exceptionalism and a desire to believe that success happens to good people and failure is just a consequence of a bad attitude rather than structural conditions….. As Enrenreich puts it, ‘If optimism is the key to material success, and if you can achieve an optimistic outlook through the discipline of positive thinking, then there is no excuse for failure.’ But, she continues, ‘the flip side of positivity is thus a harsh insistence on personal responsibility,’ meaning that while capitalism produces some people’s success through other people’s failures, the ideology of positive thinking insists that success depends only upon working hard and failures is always of your own doing.”

Source: Making Room for Asset Pedagogies – Long View on Education

The more I loved myself, the less I was willing to accept toxic positivity that promised to heal me rather than help me exist in this body. The more I loved myself, the less I accepted momentary help at the expense of systemic change. The more I loved myself, the less I wanted acceptance from people who never bothered to know me outside of their own emotional need.

Source: Disabled And In Love With Me: The Ableds’ Worst Nightmare

My point, of course, is not that we should be relentlessly negative but that we should stop being relentlessly positive — and tiresomely stoic.

Source: The Overselling of Gratitude – Alfie Kohn

Positivity is often toxic, ableist, and steeped in deficit ideology. “Positive attitude!” is a fixture on ableism bingo cards.

See also,

… right from the start, from the time someone came up with the word ‘autism’, the condition has been judged from the outside, by its appearances, and not from the inside according to how it is experienced.

Source: Autism: An Inside-Out Approach: An Innovative Look at the ‘Mechanics’ of ‘Autism’ and its Developmental ‘Cousins’ by Donna Williams

Via: Full article: Disposable dispositions: reflections upon the work of Iris Marion Young in relation to the social oppression of autistic people

Autistic Odes to Noise-cancelling Headphones

Parents and educators, check out these autistic odes to noise-cancelling headphones. They imply a lot about neurology and how misguided behaviorism is. In her thesis that introduced neurodiversity, Judy Singer called computers an essential prosthetic device for autistics. That they are. A decent set of noise-cancelling headphones is another essential device. I remember my first pair of noise cancellers. They were a revelation in sensory management. I wish they existed when I was in school. Normalize them in our classrooms, and get them to our autistic and sensory overloaded students.

The Sonic Bliss of Quintessential Autistic Gear: Noise Cancelling Headphones » The Aspergian

I’ve had AirPods Pro for a few weeks. They are pocketable and effective sensory regulation that is always with me. Noise-cancellation in such a portable package is a boon to my sensory management. Again, I wish I had them in my K-12 years. They would have changed my life and avoided some meltdowns and burnout.

Note: noise-cancelling headphones are not for everyone. They can aggravate hyperacusis and misophonia. If you can, try noise-cancellation from different manufacturers to see if one is more compatible with you. I’m fortunate to be compatible with the Sony, Sennheiser, and Apple noise-cancellation I’ve tried. They all work for me.