Affirming Neurodiversity Inside Applied Behavior Analysis: Evolving Toward Inclusivity and Compassion
Kristine Rodriguez (Autism Learning Partners)
Neurodiversity is a concept that asserts that the idea of normal cognition is a false premise, based on the medical model of disability. Instead, neurodiversity, which was conceptualized by the neurodiverse individuals we serve, states that all humans are born with different cognitive strengths and skills and that difference in cognition is valuable and even important for human evolution and creativity. As applied to ABA, advocates in the neurodiversity movement have pushed for a more flexible, more compassionate, and less ablelist approach to ABA supports for autistic people. Some of the criticisms from the neurodiversity movement appear controversial to many in the ABA field and many behavior analysts have rejected the concerns and/or attempted to defend our field against neurodiversity. This panel discussion will engage in an honest, vulnerable, and frank discussion of the strengths and limitations of what we do in ABA and use the neurodiversity movement as an opportunity to discuss practical steps the ABA field can take to moving our field to a future of greater inclusivity, flexibility, and less ableism. The neurodiverse panel of presenters includes researchers, practitioners, family members, and advocates.