Send Dani Alexis to SDS!

Yes, this is a plea for funding.  If you’d like to skip ahead to the funding part, my PayPal address is dani.alexis.ryskamp@gmail.com.

The Gracie wants you to help me do all this work more efficiently.  (Image: a fluffy white cat stretched out on a bed, which is covered in books.)

The Gracie wants you to help me do all this work more efficiently. (Image: a fluffy white cat stretched out on a bed, which is covered in books.)

So here’s the story:

1.)  After two years of MA work and just a few months before actually earning the MA, I finally know what the heck I’m doing in academia: English rhetoric and composition with a focus on disability studies and queer/crip/neuroqueer theory.

2.)  The biggest professional party in all of disability studies is the annual Society for Disability Studies (SDS) conference.  This year, it’s in Atlanta in June.

3.)  Going to SDS would be a Very. Useful. Important. Deal. for my career right now.  It would also make me be social for an entire week, which y’all keep telling me I should practice doing.

4.)  I wasn’t going to go to SDS, however, until a fellow disability studies colleague and wonderful human being offered to solve for me my number-one problem with going: transportation.

5.)  To make SDS happen, however, I still need to cover room and board for the week we’ll be in Atlanta.  I estimate I’ll need $1,500 to pull this off.

tl;dr:  Please help me get to SDS by donating anything you can – even a few dollars.   My PayPal address is dani.alexis.ryskamp@gmail.com.   If you leave me your mailing address in the PayPal comments (optional), I will send you a handwritten thank-you note of love and more love.

You can make it my birthday and Christmas presents!

(I was going to set up a GoFundMe account for this, but they take five percent, and I thought “which would my friends rather pay that five percent for – GoFundMe’s continued existence, or actually making my professional dreams come true?”)

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On Bodymind and (Migraine) Pain

While sitting in my doctor’s waiting room this morning, I began working my way through Margaret Price’s “The Bodymind Problem and the Possibilities of Pain.”

I’ve been trying to come up with a metaphor for my experience of reading this article without success – is it more like walking through a museum, with large pauses for pondering particular points?  Or is it more like eating a really good meal, one I’m going to keep comparing all my other meals to for several weeks, probably resulting in several courses of blog posts?  (And are the blog posts not unlike a bird regurgitating food for its young, with all the gustatory charm, relative to the original, that that entails?)

I have no idea.  But in hindsight, I can’t help but draw the connection between my reading and the comment I ended up making to my nurse practitioner, half an hour later:

“It’s all right if I always have migraines.  I find them useful.  But I’d like to do something about the pain.”

In the context of what we “know” about migraines, medically and colloquially, my comment is counterintuitive in the extreme.  It borders on madness.*  Migraines are pain, according to the popular literature and even to some doctors, who “read” the rest of a migraine’s symptoms – nausea, mental fog, sensitivity to light, etc. – as resulting from extreme pain rather than sharing an underlying common source with the pain.  More to the point, who – and anyone who has ever had a migraine, even once, would ask this – who would ever want extreme pain?

I don’t.  To paraphrase Alison Kafer, I have no interest in being in more pain than I currently am.  In fact, I have a great deal of interest in being in less pain, as I noted to the NP.

Price doesn’t insist that pain is universally “bad,” but she does point out that if we are going to accept disability and impairment, to celebrate them, to center them, to desire them, we must make room for the complicating fact that many people do experience their pain as bad and want it to stop.  I feel this.

When I was first introduced to the social model of disability, my migraines meant I wanted to throw it across a room.  How on earth was I supposed to accept, much less desire, my migraine states?  I’d had a minimum of three migraine days a month, every month, since I was twelve years old.  From January 2006 to December 2007 I had a migraine every single day of my life – one two-year-long haze of nausea, head pain, and sunglasses.  It lifted just in time for me to graduate from law school.  (To this day I’m still not entirely certain how I did it.)

When I met the social model in 2010, I was having the ten or more days of migraines a month that qualified me for Botox treatments.  I was also bedridden and supporting myself entirely from a laptop in my dimly-lit bedroom.  There were no societal changes left to make: I had total control over my work environment, and my parents were handling most of my ADLs for me.  Yet I was still miserable, still impaired, still disabled.

Yet here I am, five years later, telling my doctors that I would actually rather keep the migraines, especially if we can continue to dial down the pain.  What gives?

It is a truth universally acknowledged by migraine patients that migraines screw with one’s ability to think.  During my own migraines, doors to certain areas of my brain, like the one that multitracks sensory input, the one that does logic, or the one that holds all my non-migraine-related memories, slam closed.  But doors to other areas of my brain, like the one that does poetics and plot, the one that contains my hypergraphia, or the one that holds all my migraine-related memories, open.  And those doors are only open during migraines.

Put another way: my migraine pain is impairing.  It’s bad.  I would like it to stop.  My migraine changes in mental state, however, are occasionally disabling (try driving a car when you can’t multitrack sensory input!), but they are not impairing.  In fact, they’re the only time of the month I get any creative writing or poetics done at all – and, thanks to the hypergraphia, I get an extraordinary amount of creative writing and poetics done in those four days a month.

My NP deserves thanks, incidentally, for taking this comment entirely in stride.  Partly, she understands that there is more to the migraine state than “just” pain.  Mostly, she’s deeply committed to practicing exactly the sort of “care” Price explores in her article: the kind that affirms another’s pain and seeks to help end it, when desired, without categorically rejecting the impairment or disability – or the categories of identity – that seem attached to it.  My NP and I have both accepted the idea that I may always live with migraines, which means we can share the goal of helping me to live well with migraines – which, for me right now, means minimizing the pain.

*by which I mean the colloquial response is likely to be “are you crazy?”, or that I might be seen by some medical professionals to have only a tenuous grip on reality for having said it – such is the dominant aversion to desiring disability.

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More Paper Planning: Postcolonial Star Trek

I haven’t Googled “postcolonial Star Trek,” but there is no way in Rura Penthe that this paper will be boldly going where no one has gone before.  Still, not every paper I write – especially a ten-pager for a graduate seminar – needs to break new ground or arrest the attention of editors.  This one I’m interested in writing mostly for fun, the way I filled several pages last year discussing parody and pastiche in the Glee Rocky Horror episode.

I’m interested in tracing the development of the Prime Directive both chronologically through the release of the various series, but chronologically through the Star Trek universe.  The development through “our” chronology is pretty straightforward, but the corresponding development through the chronology of the Star Trek universe is more complex – and, for that reason, perhaps more authentic.

The chronology of the series’ release (TOS -> TNG -> DS9 -> VOY -> ENT) expand the Prime Directive’s core value of non-interference in “developing” societies on a path that pretty straightforwardly tracks the decline and fall of traditional colonialism during the same time periods.   Put another way, as “we” – the writers and the audience – got more concerned about colonialist interference, so did each series.  Kirk doesn’t seem to realize the words “Prime Directive” have any content at all; Picard (and especially Riker) is willing to ignore the thing whenever it is inconvenient to the plot; Janeway faces various opportunities to take a decidedly post-postcolonial-anxiety view of the thing but largely does not; Archer can’t shut up about it.

(Abrams’ Kirk also doesn’t seem to know what the words mean, but in a “screw you I’ma do what I want” way, rather than the “screw you these poor souls need saving” way that TOS Kirk (and ENT’s Tripp) take.  Which perhaps implies a different way of transcending, or backpedaling at, post-postcolonialist anxiety.  There’s probably a great Marxist analysis there, given that Abrams’ Star Trek came out in 2009.  But I digress.)

But when the series are put in chronological order according to their internal canons, the Federation’s relationship with the Prime Directive becomes much more complex.  Archer’s drive to prevent the kind of “great powers gather to divide up the solar system” debacle that once divided Africa comes to a head (subtextually) in the Enterprise series finale, but prior to that point, the crew of the NX-o1 is not only happily (or not) interfering in other cultures, but actually colonizing space or at least trying to touch base with actual human colonists.  (There’s probably a second solid Marxist analysis to be made of  the fact that Mayweather – who grew up on a shipping line –  is also the crew member harboring the deepest fascination with the Terra Nova colony.)

The drive to “actually colonize space” subsides a bit in the original series, but in The Next Generation, the NCC-1701-D gets sent to deal with an awful lot of colonies, sporting a (calm if not benign) sense of “manifest destiny” that seems to operate as the “convenience” driving the unspoken rule “ignore the Prime Directive when it is inconvenient to the plot.”  In both Deep Space 9 and Voyager, one could argue that the colonialist sense kicks into overdrive; the series themselves put the Federation first at the edges of its “home” quadrant and then literally in the galactic equivalent of someone else’s continent.

If the Federation’s concern with postcolonial non-interference follows the same trajectory as that of the writers and audience, it is Janeway, not Archer, who should be unable to shut up about it.  Not only does Voyager fall last chronologically, but the ship finds itself in the Delta Quadrant by accident, and the Delta Quadrant is literally uncharted-by-the-Federation space.  What legitimate business (or manifest destiny) could the Federation possibly have in it?  Should its representatives, so deeply concerned with non-interference that Archer worries it for ten years like Porthos with a brick of cheddar, not see themselves as intruders in the Delta Quadrant and thus tread even more lightly?

The answer, we find out, is no, Tuvok’s rather expansive definition of the Prime Directive in the series premiere (he does not limit it to pre-warp cultures) notwithstanding.  Voyager may have wound up in the Delta Quadrant by accident – and the crew may have decided that the way to survive there is to behave like Starfleet officers – but those are no reason to cleave to the Federation’s central anxiety.  Principles are for colonists who aren’t facing Species 8472.  (Perhaps the principle of non-interference does not apply at the apex of biological evolution.)

So what we have is a series written in a way that rather simplistically mirrors our own American postcolonial anxieties, but that plays out within its own universe in much more complex ways.  As perhaps our own (post?)colonial practices are playing out, in fact.

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Does the Subaltern Have a Theory of Mind?

In the past 24 hours, I’ve read (in between teaching, Date Night, and assorted appointments) Gayatri Chakravorty Spviak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?“, Melanie Yergeau’s “Clinically Significant Disturbance: On Theorists Who Theorize Theory of Mind” and Barbara Johnson’s translator’s introduction to Derrida’s Dissemination.

I’m reading all this in the service of my current paper deconstructing uses of the work “speak” in discussions of autism.  But, as you do, my mind is also working several papers ahead.  Not for the first time, I’m grappling with “theory of mind” and its place in my work (in my work and in my work), especially since “theory of mind” is, as Melanie Yergeau points out, so indissoluble from the question of autistic people’s very humanity.

So this line by Johnson caught my eye in particular:

In its elaboration of a critique of the metaphysical forces that structure and smother differance in every text, a deconstructive reading thus assumes . . . that an inquiry that attempts to study an object by means of that very object is open to certain analyzable aberrations (this pertains to virtually all important investigations: the self analyzing itself, man studying man, thought thinking about thought, language speaking about language, etc. ).

(xvi)

This line implies to me that “theory of mind” also belongs among the examples listed in Johnson’s parentheses, and that a deconstruction of it should also produce “certain analyzable aberrations.”  Just as my current paper argues that positing autistics as “arhetorical” by pointing to an inability to “speak” puts the positer in the “arhetorical” position of refusing to listen, claiming that one human mind can know that another human mind doesn’t know about “other minds” is, itself, a form of mindblindness.  Simon Baron-Cohen once revealed this very fact in far fewer words when he wrote “it is probably impossible to imagine what it is like to be mindblind.”

As it turns out, some work on deconstructing “theory of mind” has already been done, which helps me know I’m not alone in my intuitions.  But since I’m also rereading Spivak and taking a class in postcolonial literature and theory, I also have this question:

Does the subaltern have a theory of mind?

Put another way, is “subalternity” created, constructed, and/or reinforced by the same “these people have no theory of mind” propaganda that strips autistic people of their humanity?  And if not – if either the propaganda doesn’t exist or it exists but it is not the same as the charges leveled against the autistic nonexistent – what’s different, and why?

Put another way, is “the subaltern” subaltern because they (are constructed as if they) have no theory of mind?

In before either brainscience or cognitive-approaches-to-stuff-in-your-English-department types crawl out of the woodwork to tell me that “theory of mind” is an empirical reality, not a theoretical construct:  1.  You’re wrong.  2.  Even if you are not wrong, so-called “empirical realities” can have hella oppressive political results when rhetoricized in certain ways – and those are the things in which I am primarily interested.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled hedgehog having a bath.

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Deconstructing “Speak” in Autism Discourse: A Working Bibliography

Alternate title: “Come With Me and Together We Shall Nerd All the Cities of the Earth.”  The items on my reading list for my current paper are under the cut.

Continue reading

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Building Trust in Autism Research: A Response to Dr. Manuel Casanova

I write extensively on neurodiversity (in) rhetoric, including my most recent publication on neurodiverse approaches to poetics. So when a link to Dr. Manuel Casanova’s “The Neurodiversity Movement: Lack of Trust” popped up on my Facebook feed, a great many of my colleagues assumed – not without reason – that I’d be livid. But ranting gets us nowhere.

Instead, I’d like to take a different approach. Our respective neurotypes notwithstanding, Dr. Casanova and I actually have several things in common. We both hold terminal professional degrees, for instance. We are both affiliated with major research universities. Dr. Casanova and I are also concerned about many of the same things when it comes to autism. We’re both concerned about the implications of “speaking over” autistic individuals, and we both think the question of “who speaks for whom?” is deeply relevant. We’re both concerned about the risks of narrative bias, especially the impact of those risks on what is intended – and believed by the public to be – “objective” scientific research.

Ironically, our shared concerns are exactly those shared by a significant portion of the individuals who make up the neurodiversity movement. In other words, Dr. Casanova actually has extraordinary potential to become a neurodiversity advocate – if he chooses to listen.

1. “Autobiographical Accounts” and Bias

Dr. Casanova opens with the observation that “autobiographical accounts are usually biased.” He’s right.

But scientific accounts may be biased as well. For example, John Duffy and Rebecca Dorner’s “The Pathos of Mindblindness” discusses several scientific articles on “theory of mind,” most notably the works of prominent researcher Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen. Duffy and Dorner’s central argument is that “mindblindness” in autism is not an objective fact. Rather, it is a construct arising from the bias of the researchers who adopt it as a metaphor. They caution that adopting a metaphor to explain autism (or any neurological condition) treads dangerous ground: it is far too easy for a construct to take on the imprimatur of “scientific fact.” This is not “science by press release,” to use Dr. Casanova’s words – but it is science by poetry, with the potential for similar harm.

Duffy and Dorner’s article has the weight of peer-reviewed scholarly publication behind it. But its central argument is not appreciably different from those that appear in personal, “autobiographical” pieces like Mel Baggs’s classic “In My Language,” or even my not-at-all-classic “Writing While Autistic.” Nor is it different from assertions made in more “scientific” peer-reviewed articles, like Markram, Rinaldi, and Markram’s “The Intense World Syndrome – an Alternative Hypothesis for Autism,” or the sea change that has led researchers to give increasingly less credence to Bruno Bettelheim’s “refrigerator mother” theory of autism.

The overarching argument that connects all these pieces is this: Scientists’ accounts can be biased, too. Bias is a human habit, one we cannot always help. We must observe from somewhere, and the view “outside” autism is no more inherently clear-sighted than the view “inside” it, Dr. Casanova’s assertions notwithstanding.

Science is based on observations. All observations are subjective. That a whole lot of consistent observations, stacked together, result in a scientific model or theory does not mean that the observations suddenly become “objective” by reason of their similarities. The observations are still subjective. They all simply point in the same direction.

For many neurodiversity-minded writers, the issue at hand is that our observations of autism point in a different direction from the observations of researchers. This prompts us to point out: “Hey, your observations do not match my observations.”

In fact, many people come to identify with the neurodiversity movement because, in articulating their own observations, they find their observations are shared by other autistic people and are not shared by autism researchers. In other words, the drive to “match” observations that results in the aggregation of people into a “neurodiversity movement” is the same drive to “match” observations that results in the articulation of workable scientific models and theories.

Insofar as Dr. Casanova is concerned about getting the science of autism right, his intuitions about bias are spot-on. Observations are subjective; a lot of observations that point in the same direction become scientifically meaningful. It makes sense, then, for autism researchers to seek out observations – even if their seeds are planted in aggressively “non-scientific” sources.

2. Who Speaks for Whom?

Dr. Casanova writes that “one of the curious struggles within the autism community has been the misrepresentation of opinions of the pro-neurodiversity elite as being representative of those at the bottom.” His concern is that, because the work of neurodiversity advocates is generally verbal – that is, written or spoken – and because autism typically presents with impairments in language, by definition those who can put their communication in words are an “elite,” and not one representative of “those at the bottom.”

Even those of us who write or speak for a living often express considerable difficulty doing so. Some of us who “word” do so only by writing, and some even rely on facilitated communication to make it happen. But one thing most of the neurodiversity movement has in common is a keen awareness of the implications of “passing”.

Indeed, if “passing” is the issue, I daresay Dr. Casanova could learn much about its pitfalls simply by listening to neurodiverse voices. Those of us who write in the field of neurodiversity are aware of the risks.

Another significant concern among neurodiversity types is the silencing of autistic voices. Just as we are concerned about “passing,” we are concerned about who speaks for whom. For example, a great many of the links in the post connect to the work of writers who have expressed an interest in neurodiversity, often urging others to both speak and listen to them, and yet who do not “speak” in words (and who sometimes do not write without support). That is by design. Their words are as valuable as mine, and I am keenly aware of the problem of who speaks for and over whom. (I specialize in it, in fact.)

Dr. Casanova’s post takes “the neurodiversity movement” (which he does not define) to task for “speaking over” nonverbal autistic individuals. In so doing, it fails to recognize two things. One, many nonverbal autistic individuals define themselves as part of “the neurodiversity movement.”  To speak over one group to which these individuals belong on the pretense of speaking for another group to which they belong is silly in the extreme.  Two, if one’s central concern is that autistic individuals will be “spoken over,” then speaking over “speaking” autistic individuals is surely no more defensible than speaking over “nonspeaking” autistic ones. Communication requires both speaking and listening.

3. Not Like My Child

Of those who do write and/or speak within the neurodiversity movement, Dr. Casanova asks “What gives them the right to carry the weight of the autistic community on their shoulders? By claiming that autism is not a pain or a handicap to some do they change medicine? Do they erase the existence of seizures, mood disorders, impaired attention, learning difficulties, or sensory abnormalities in a majority of autistic individuals?”

As in the rest of his piece, Dr. Casanova never identifies who, exactly, he means by “them,” so it’s hard to respond to these allegations exactly. In fact, without a single citation to any neurodiversity-minded writer or piece penned from a neurodiverse perspective, it’s really hard to tell exactly what “neurodiversity movement” Dr. Casanova thinks he’s talking about. But, in the tradition of subjective observation-sharing which builds all human knowledge, I will respond to these questions as best I can.

First, I have yet to hear anyone affiliated with the concept of neurodiversity claim to “carry the weight of the autistic community on their shoulders,” unless Dr. Casanova means our various attempts at self-advocacy or at advocacy for others, such as the #FreeNeli campaign, our calls for justice for autistic individuals murdered by parents and caregivers, or our pleas to be treated as members of the human species rather than as curiosities, pity cases, or monsters.

While I cannot claim any of these as belonging to “the neurodiversity movement” in particular – much less to whatever entity Dr. Casanova’s post presumes “the neurodiversity movement” is – I can say, with confidence, that anything that falls under the rubric of treating autistic people fundamentally as human beings probably qualifies as “neurodiverse” by definition.

So insofar as we are pulling for every autistic person to be seen as a person, regardless of so-called functioning level, perhaps we are “carrying the weight of the autistic community on [our] shoulders.” But we are doing that work because nobody else is.

Does our advocacy on our own behalf “change medicine”? No, of course not. The accretion of data over time and the adjusting of models to accommodate that data changes medicine, as indeed it should change all scientific endeavors. Pointing out that not everything about having autism is terrible does not, in itself, “change medicine.” It creates additional data points – points that might profitably be considered when adjusting the models.

And no, pointing out that sometimes being autistic has benefits does not “erase the existence of seizures, mood disorders, impaired attention, learning difficulties, or sensory abnormalities in a majority of autistic individuals” (a majority that, I feel it relevant to note, includes me). But seizures are not autism. Mood disorders are not autism. Impaired attention is not (always) autism. Learning difficulties are not (always) autism. Sensory abnormalities are not (always) autism.

Many of us “on the spectrum” who struggle with these comorbid conditions would gladly have them reduced or eliminated. Many of us already have found ways to live better, with less impairment from these comorbid conditions, without the need to hate or to cure our autism.

And those of us who have reached this place – the place where we can learn to live better without wishing ourselves not-autistic – tend to recommend it to others, yes. Living with fewer seizures, less anxiety and depression, more focus, better retention and recall, and the ability to navigate difficult environments profitably is “better living” in every sense.

That these improvements have been reached by living patients who are still autistic despite having achieved them is a data point we think might interest autism researchers, and a data point that might help other autistic people live better today. That is why we share it.

4. “Neurodiversity is a reformation against the orthodoxy of medicine.”

I title this subsection with this quote, the topic sentence of the final paragraph of Dr. Casanova’s post, for two reasons.

First, re-opening with this quote allows me to skip the several paragraphs in between the last quoted section and this one. I’m forced to do this because the skipped paragraphs have no substantive or falsifiable argument to counter. They are, to put it in the words of mathematician Wolfgang Pauli, “not even wrong.” Dr. Casanova does not cite a single source for his assertions, and he leaves parties like “the leaders of neurodiversity movement” and “those who literally can’t speak for themselves” woefully un-identified. Where there is no argument, there can be no counterargument. In other words, the skipped paragraphs are a rant, not a position.

Second, I focus on this quote because Dr. Casanova is once again correct. Many writings based in neurodiversity seek to challenge the orthodoxy of autism medicine as it now stands. Insofar as the orthodoxy (literally “right thinking”) of medicine neither accounts for nor reflects the lived experiences of the patients it treats, the orthodoxy risks failing those patients.

As a scientist, Dr. Casanova would be better served to embrace this challenge, not to decry it. First, the challenge itself offers data he may have not possessed before: whether they intend to take a “neurodiverse” perspective or not, the work of researchers and writers across multiple disciplines makes it quite clear that autism research does not currently consider all the relevant variables. Second, if his goal is to help autistic patients, even proceeding with incomplete information – feedback from the few so-called “elite” who can verbalize – is arguably better than proceeding with no information.  Incomplete information can be verified or falsified.  No information cannot.

5. Trust

My own research currently focuses on the various positions and interpretations of the word “speak” in autism discourse. My methodologies differ greatly from those in the sciences, although – based on his citations of Freud and Foucault in this post – it would appear that Dr. Casanova and I are at least somewhat co-conversant as to theories. In short, I specialize in examining how words are used, in what ways, and in what political and social relationships result.

So when Dr. Casanova asserts at the end of his post that “in a team environment decisions may be made primarily by trust and this is what is lacking in the neurodiversity movement,” I cannot help but smile – or grimace. Because once again, Dr. Casanova is right.

When one hears repeatedly that one, in Julia Rodas’s words, “cannot or should not speak,” it is difficult indeed to build trust with the person doing the talking. It is especially difficult to build that trust when one is told not to speak by someone so hell-bent on not listening that he fails to do so much as cite a single actual human being affiliated with the neurodiversity movement in a several-hundred-word blog post about the actions of human beings affiliated with the neurodiversity movement.

In rhetoric, this trust-building is called “ethos.” If one wishes to “build trust in the neurodiversity movement,” one does well to remember that ethos begins with listening.

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Want to Read My Newest Scholarly Article? You Know You Do!

And now you can!

ScholarWorks’s “recommended citation” (clearly not in MLA format):

Ryskamp, Dani Alexis (2014) “Neurodiversity’s Lingua Franca?: The Wild Iris, Autobiography of Red, and the Breakdown of Cognitive Barriers Through Poetic Language,” The Hilltop Review: Vol. 7: Iss. 1, Article 5.

It amuses me that both of my (autistic) reviewers’ responses congratulated me on successfully rehabilitating Savarese’s concept of “neurocosmopolitanism,” which both of them side-eyed pretty hard. I understand why they think it needs rehabilitating. But my goal was never to rehab Savarese’s concept, or even to criticize it particularly. My goal was to anchor my arguments in whatever existing literature I could find in order to demonstrate that I was not in fact “just making it all up.” Which is a legitimate fear for any grad student in the humanities, and a particularly keen one when one’s neuroatypicality and its discontents have led to a lot of criticism in one’s lifetime that one’s brain products are “just made up.” (“To get attention,” perhaps?) Savarese and Chew were, frankly, just about all I could find.

I read both Savarese and Chew as making a good-faith effort to bridge the neurodiversity communication gaps, but either they are entirely neurotypical themselves, or they are setting aside whatever neuroatypicalities they do experience in favor of focusing on how they themselves are not autistic, specifically. Since I’m increasingly convinced we’re all “neuroatypical” in some way (in fact, I’m teaching a class this semester founded on this very conviction), I think the latter is more likely than the former. If so, that strikes me as one hell of a missed opportunity for them both, for reasons I explore in this paper.

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