Google, Autism Speaks, and NAUWU

Even Google fails to Google Autism Speaks (or show the slightest awareness of the neurodiversity and disability right movements) before partnering with them in eugenics and abuse against a neurominority.

https://www.newsweek.com/autism-speaks-partnering-google-cure-autism-sparks-backlash-1580272

Last time I wrote about Google, they were silencing marginalized voices and disrespecting NAUWU principles (Nothing About Us Without Us). Partnering with Autism Speaks is a move to be expected of such an organization.

If Google had autistic employees advising on this, it wouldn’t have happened. Do they not have a Neurodiversity ERG to consult? Did they fire all the ethicists who can see eugenics when it’s right there in their face?

That Twitter thread is full of resources on the problems with Autism Speaks and examples of the rhetoric we autistic people face when warning about Autism Speaks.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Blogging

I haven’t had the anxiety or pain budget to do much in-the-trenches advocacy and DEI work with y’all, but I manage to publish some neurodiversity and DEI related posts as I go about my reading. Here are a few months of highlights.


I particularly recommend the study I quote in “Neurominorities, Spiky Profiles, and the Biopsychosocial Model at Work” to all DEI and HR workers.

Neurominorities, Spiky Profiles, and the Biopsychosocial Model at Work

Selected quote:

The aim of occupational accommodations for neurominorities is to access the strengths of the spiky profile and palliate the struggles.


A “design for equity, inclusion, and pluralism” cheatsheet, of sorts, that I use to remind myself:

Just Sayin’

Selected quote:

There is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity.

Inequities are primarily power and privilege problems.

Source: Basic Principles for Equity Literacy


Cognitive diversity exists for a reason. Selections on neurodiversity evolutionary history with dollops of positive niche construction, collaborative morality, and cultural evolution:

Cognitive diversity exists for a reason.

Selected quote:

Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species.

Source: A Thousand Rivers – Carol Black


The fidgets that got me through 2020:

Favorite Fidgets 2020


Image work diversity fails our realities.

Image Work Diversity vs. The Reality of Me

Selected quote:

“They wanted to have my presence, but not me exactly. They wanted to have the idea of me being at Google, but not the reality of me being at Google,” Gebru said.

Source: Researcher Timnit Gebru Says Google Wanted ‘My Presence, But Not Me Exactly’ : NPR


Are we using the right amount of strategic essentialism with our Employee Resource Groups?

Strategic Essentialism and Employee Resource Groups


We all need some digital sociology if we’re gonna be in the platform business.

The need for digital sociology is now.


“Nothing about us without us” is an ethical prime directive.

Dr. Gebru, NAUWU, and DEI

Selected quote:

I first heard the expression “Nothing About Us Without Us” in South Africa in 1993. Michael Masutha and William Rowland, two leaders ofDisabled People South Africa, separately invoked the slo- gan, which they had heard used by someone from Eastern Europe at an international disability rights conference. The slogan’s power derives from its location of the source of many types of (disability) oppression and its simultaneous opposition to such oppression in the context of control and voice.

Source: NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US: Disability Oppression and Empowerment


“Do not be the oppressor” is another guiding star. Check this talk for how to do more than image work diversity.

Do Not Be the Oppressor: Unlocking the Power of Employee Resource Groups

Selected quotes:

“Show me the money, and I’ll show you the outcome.”

“How are you gonna drive a DEI strategy with absolutely nobody in place to maintain continuity and accountability?”

“If you don’t have a dedicated person, how do you further this work?”

Obviously and exactly, yet so many companies lack a DEI head, including my own.


None of us should be in the behaviorism business.

The Problem with Behaviorism

Selected quote:

Skinner won; Papert lost. Thorndike won; Dewey lost. Behaviorism won.

https://rnbn.blog/2020/10/10/2121/


A reflection on past iterations of me:

Tech Ethics, Roaming Autodidacts, and the White-Male Effect

Selected quote:

I very much resemble the roaming autodidact. Tech and open source are full of us. It took longer than I’d like to admit for me to recognize the white-male effect in my own thinking. “A form of cognition that protects status” is an apt summary, especially for roaming autodidacts who’ve lived and believe the meritocracy myth.


So much whelm.

Titrating the Whelm: Perceptual Capacity and Autistic Burnout

Selected quote:

The divergent ways in which we process the world around us can also leave us fatigued and sapped of energy, as autistic people have “higher perceptual capacity” than our neurotypical counterparts, meaning that we process greater volumes of information from our environment. Autistic people commonly use the concept of ‘spoon theory‘ to conceptualize this experience of having limited energy resources.

Source: Doing More by Doing Less: Reducing Autistic Burnout | Psychology Today


So much stress.

Autism, Trauma, and Stress

Selected quote:

Recently it has been suggested that individuals with ASD are at an increased risk of experiencing potentially traumatic events and being significantly affected by them (Haruvi-Lamdan et al., 2018; Kerns et al., 2015).

Source: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An unexplored co-occurrence of conditions – Nirit Haruvi-Lamdan, Danny Horesh, Shani Zohar, Meital Kraus, Ofer Golan, 2020


Hannah Gadsby on social anxiety, social exhaustion, routine, masking, autism and gender norms, being perceived as angry, getting feedback, observing patterns, competition, autistic stereotypes, processing time, autistic appreciation of comedy, diagnosis and misdiagnosis, functioning labels, toxic masculinity, thinking in terms of neurobiology instead of gender, eugenics, patriarchal devices, storytelling, comedy and trauma, neurodivergence in comedy, cruelty in comedy, fitting in, shame, failure and success, and religion:

https://rnbn.blog/2020/12/19/2165/

Selected quote:

What is yourself? It’s a way of being in the world that doesn’t feel exhausting.


I discovered “Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman” through the Queer ERG at work. Here’s a selection on internet socialization:

https://rnbn.blog/2020/12/19/2169/

I added that to my “Written communication is the great social equalizer” post:

https://rnbn.blog/2020/12/21/2173/

And another relatable quote, this one on isolation and sensory overwhelm:

Overwhelm and Isolation: It’s pretty hard to feel alone in a world this constantly loud.

The whole book is full of relatable moments.


Currently reading:

Selected quotes.


What DEI stuff are y’all reading and blogging?

Neurominorities, Spiky Profiles, and the Biopsychosocial Model at Work

I’m making my way through my second read of the very interesting ”Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults”. There is a lot to digest. It offers:

  • definitions of neurotypical and neurodivergent based on spiky versus flat profiles
  • a taxonomy and timeline of neurominorities
  • an evolutionary critique of the psychomedical model
  • a biopsychosocial model for work
  • occupational considerations of neurodiversity
  • work-related difficulties and strengths attributed to neurominorities

I recommend this to all DEI and HR workers. Selected quotes:

There is consensus regarding some neurodevelopmental conditions being classed as neurominorities, with a ‘spiky profile’ of executive functions difficulties juxtaposed against neurocognitive strengths as a defining characteristic.

An evolutionary critique of the psychomedical model

Given the extent of overlap between the conditions, the under-diagnosis of females who instead present with anxiety, depression or eating disorders, and the estimated prevalence of each condition, a reasonable estimate of all neurominorities within the population is around 15-20%, i.e. a significant minority. Research supports a genetic component to most conditions which, when considered with combined prevalence rates, suggests an evolutionary critique of the medical model: if neurodivergence is essentially disablement, why do we keep replicating the gene pool? The less extensive, yet persistent, body of work indicating specialist strengths within neurodiversity, supports the hypothesis that the evolutionary purpose of divergence is ‘specialist thinking skills’ to balance ‘generalist’ thinking skills (as per the ‘spiky profile’). The evolutionary perspective is congruent with the Neurodiversity movement and essential to understanding the occupational talent management perspective that is currently in vogue.

The psychomedical histories outlined in Table 2 speak to the evolutionary critique for two reasons. Firstly, they demonstrate the consistency of the ‘specific’ rather than ‘general’ nature of impairment (the spiky profile) across all four conditions over time, irrespective of the changing nature of causal theories. The conditions are named and identified according to their most prominent deficits, which are themselves contextualized within our normative educational social history. Dyslexia is discovered around the same time as literacy becomes mainstream through education; ADHD becomes more prevalent with the increasing sedentary lifestyles from the industrial revolution; autism increases in line with modern frequency of social communication and sensory stimulation and DCD as our day-to-day need for motor control of complex tools and machinery becomes embedded. The evolutionary critique of neurodevelopmental disorders is that their perceived pathology is related to what we consider normal in modern times, as opposed to what is normal development within the human species.3,7,53–55 Secondly of interest from the timeline in Table 2 is the final column, wherein we see that, despite consistent observation of similar neurobiological differences, we lack a single unifying theory for any condition.

Towards a biopsychosocial model

The spiky profile may well emerge as the definitive expression of neurominority, within which there are symptom clusters that we currently call autism, ADHD, dyslexia and DCD

Within the biopsychosocial model of neurodiversity, understanding work-related intervention and treatment becomes more about adjusting the fit between the person and their environment than about treating a disorder. Critical review of the extant biopsychosocial research supports the social model proposition that the individual is not disabled, but the environment is disabling.

The legal status of neurodiversity

Disability status is predicated not on diagnosis of condition, but on the assessment of functional impairment, the extent to which the individual is inhibited and excluded.

Many neurominority employees find themselves in need of disability accommodation at work. Irrespective of legal protection, social and occupational exclusion are endemic for neurominorities.

Occupational considerations of neurodiversity

A reductive, medical paradigm of research is incongruent with the legal status of neurominorities as protected conditions in most developed countries, to which organizations must adjust.

Occupational symptomatology

At the functional level, there are similarities between neurominorities in terms of presentation. As alluded to in Table 2, executive functions are a common psychological complaint, resulting in difficulties with short-term and working memory, attention regulation, planning, prioritizing, organization and time management. Self-regulation of work performance is required in many modern employment contexts and therefore these issues present as the most disabling for individuals. There is also commonality among strengths, many related to higher order cognitive functioning reliant on comprehension and creativity.Table 3, adapted again from the British Psychological Society’s 2017 report, describes reported strengths and weaknesses associated with the four main neurominorities. The comparatively fewer references regarding strengths may reflect a research bias as opposed to an accurate representation of lived experience; it certainly is incongruent with the ‘talent’ narrative that is becoming dominant in workplaces.

Accommodations

The aim of occupational accommodations for neurominorities is to access the strengths of the spiky profile and palliate the struggles.

When assessment methods are more matched to the eventual job performance (for example observation of physical examination skills using role play patients) extra time becomes less important. This principle applies across education, recruitment and employment but is poorly understood by lay people or those without an understanding of cognitive functions and the antecedent components of job performance.

Following Diagnosis

Once a condition or conditions have been identified, an individual may feel vindicated, and experience catharsis. Psychology practitioners report their clients’ mental shift following correct diagnosis at the identity level and warn that, done badly, it can lead to disempowerment.12 However, done well, understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses can lead to breaking down barriers and removing self-reproach.

Accessing adjustments

Adjustments tend to be provided as a compliance activity per individual, with few businesses looking systemically at Universal Design for neurominorities as would be recommended in the United Nations Convention on disability. Access to accommodations is thus predicated on individual disclosure, typically occurring following a conflict or episode of poor performance. Individuals are reluctant to voluntarily disclose in advance as they fear discrimination (with some justification) and therefore the aims of the disability legislation programs worldwide are not yet having the intended effect on inclusion.

Accommodations in providing medical treatment

Differences in sensory perception have been reported as a hallmark of neurominority internal experience, which may affect pain management, sleep patterns and increase routine-change difficulties during in-patient care.

Conclusions

From within an emerging paradigm, clinicians and researchers must appreciate the shift in discourse regarding neurodiversity from an active, vocal stake- holder group and embrace new avenues for study and practice that address practical concerns regarding education, training, work and inclusion. This article has provided an overview of the neurodiversity employment picture; namely high percentages of exclusion juxtaposed against a narrative of talent and hope. Understanding the importance of nomenclature, sensory sensitivity and the lasting psychological effects of intersectional social exclusion is key for physicians wanting to interact confidently and positively with neurominorities. The proposed biopsychosocial model allows us to provide therapeutic intervention (medical model) and recommend structural accommodation (legislative obligation) without pathologization (social model). In other words, we can deal pragmatically with the individuals who approach us and strive for the best outcomes, given their profile and environment.

Source: Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults | British Medical Bulletin | Oxford Academic

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