Personnel departments and personality discrimination

I could have written this post yesterday–and yet it’s 7 years old.

Where is the Neurodiversity Movement when it’s most needed?


  • Does personality diversity count as part of neurodiversity? 
  • What about viewpoint diversity?
  • What about diversity within autism?
  • When it comes to workplace neurodiversity, should we privilege some forms of neurodiversity over others?

After all, all of the above is ultimately a matter of neurology–as opposed to physiology or, say, metaphysics.

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If you’re facilitated, are you an autistic person or a person with autism?

We’ve been getting lots of comments at recently, as well as the occasional email message. Not all of them are particularly friendly. 

Here is an old post about a message I got a while ago. Even though this comment is not about FC,  and even though FC wasn’t as much on my mind then as it is now, an FC connection still leapt out at me.

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Why facilitated communication and its variants cannot be compared to sign language

I recently posted this comment at in response to a comment on a post from last October about Penn State’s hosting of a pro-FC event. Given all that’s gone on since Penn State hosted this conference (for example, this), and the persistence of certain problematic claims, I think it’s worth posting here, too.

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Revolutionary ideas: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

Ongoing claims that schools need an overhaul because they’re based on 19th century models reminded me of this post from 7 years ago.

At this point, I’d take Alfred North Whitehead’s observation one step further. When over an extended period of time a variety of people with compelling credentials and affiliations proclaim repeatedly in mainstream media outlets that we need a certain type of revolution (whether in education, in priorities, and/or in how we think or act), there’s a good chance that this revolution is long over and that the ideas that support it are old hat.

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Stop belaboring the easy stuff and redirect that time to the hard stuff

Recent claims about how students don’t understand the “equals” sign (and therefore require lessons on the underlying concept of mathematical equality) remind me of yet another old post.

(Perhaps the biggest reason why kids appear not to understand the equals sign is because they’re having trouble making sense of the stuff on either side of it).

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Questioning J’s Autism Diagnosis

I’ve never questioned it; no psychiatric or psychological professional who has ever evaluated J has ever questioned it; no one who has actually met J has ever questioned it.

But a couple of non-autism experts who haven’t met him have questioned J’s autism. They’ve either wondered whether J is at the functioning level I report him at, or (!) whether he’s autistic at all. Surprisingly, these folks are themselves autism parents.

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Some clarifications about message passing research for FC and its variants

 In a recent comment on, I wrote:

Any experienced facilitators who are interested in exploring the possibility of ideomotor effects during facilitation will find researchers eager to work with them. Unfortunately, facilitators since the early 1990s have been instructed “don’t test,” and nearly all are compliant with that maxim.

Could it be that the facilitators and parents of facilitated individuals are no longer interested in/curious about exploring the ideomotor effects in FC?

Of course I’m not saying that there are no facilitators/parents who consider themselves to be interested in exploring the ideomotor effects in FC. Indeed, there are such people out there, though in some cases they have alienated potential research partners so much that those particular researchers have no interest in having anything to do with them. Nonetheless, if such a parent/facilitator really wants to, they can certainly find other research partners whom they haven’t alienated.

As for my interest in such research, I’m game–provided that:

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…And stop belaboring the concept of the equals sign

My long-time math crony Barry Garelick has recently alerted me to claims about how students don’t understand the “equals” sign and therefore require lessons on the underlying concept of mathematical equality. 

(These claims are based on studies that potentially confuse conceptual understanding of the equals sign with the ability to do basic arithmetic or involve additional confounds like the effects of tutoring.)

The notion that teachers should be devoting class time to conceptual understanding of the equals sign reminds me of this old post from Out in Left Field.

Stop belaboring the concepts: the limits of “conceptual understanding”

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The Question of Authorship in Autism

The latest news about colleges and universities falling for facilitated communication reminds me of this old Out in Left Field post–from 2015. I had forgot about how long some of these issues have been on my mind.

Autism diaries: the question of authorship

“I just assumed you were coming back to the kitchen,” says J. “In fact, I did not even think of trying to leave the fan on all night.”

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Yes, but is it teachable?

A recent study (still just a pre-print) cited by supporters of “social-emotional learning” (SEL) reminds me of all the fanfare about “grit” (remember grit?) and of an old post of mine from Out In Left Field.

But first, a bit about this latest study, entitled “The Roles of Social-Emotional Skills in Students’ Academic and Life Success: A Multi-Informant, Multi-Cohort Perspective.” Its methodology appears rigorous: 

a multi-informant (self, teacher, and parent) and multi-cohort (ages 10 and 15 from Finland, N = 5,533) perspective to study the association between 15 social-emotional skills and 20 educational (e.g., school grades), social (e.g., relationships with teachers) psychological health (e.g., life satisfaction), and physical health outcomes (e.g., sleep trouble).

But what does it conclude?

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Reasonable accommodations for moderate autism?

As I noted in a recent comment, the most helpful accommodations J. got in college–and perhaps the most helpful accommodations he’s ever had–were:

1. A written transcript of the entire class.

2. The option to take certain classes online.

These two accommodations, increasing the quantity of text-based information and text-based exchanges, made it easier for him to review things would otherwise go in one ear and disappear out the other. 

And the second accommodation eliminated the greatest challenges of group work: those spontaneous, in-person exchanges involving fast moving conversations and non-verbal communication.

But what about what is often the greatest challenge of all in moderate autism: comprehension, especially reading comprehension. Here, from Out in Left Field, is a follow-up post to the last one.

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Facilitating people by “providing access”

The more I think about the kinds of notions I discussed in this old post from Out in Left Field, the more I think about how all this is part of a broader phenomenon that includes facilitated communication.

The broad assumption is that children have already picked up various academic skills on their own and that all the adults need to do is to “provide access.”  “Provide access”, in turn, seems to mean whatever support is necessary for students to “demonstrate understanding.”

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Isn’t it pretty to think so?

The increasing demands for the full inclusion in regular education classes of profoundly autistic students who are purportedly unlocked by facilitated communication, along with Greg Ashman’s recent post on full inclusion, have reminded me of this old Out in Left Field post of mine:

The Full Inclusion illusion

Even as J winds down his final year in the Philadelphia public school system, I’m still learning new things about how the district operates. For example, I recently learned that the one-size-fits-all approach to high school English predates the Common Core. For at least the last dozen years, all Philadelphia high school English teachers have had to choose from a specific list of literary works/authors, which include Steinbeck, Edgar Allen Poe, the Canterbury Tales, and Shakespeare plays. It doesn’t matter that, according to a 2013 report, only 53.4% of the school district’s 11th graders scored proficient or advanced on the Literature section of the state’s new Keystone test, and that only 10.1% and 10.6%, respectively, of English Language Learners and special ed students with IEPs scored proficient or advanced in Literature.

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