Aspergian Pride

Reflections on a Changing World

Jul 27

Posted: under Internet Activism.

The neurodiversity movement got its start in the early 1990s, when a few autistic people got together on mailing lists and dared to imagine a day when they would be seen as equals in society.  Their conversations were, at that time, largely unknown to the world.  The prevailing stereotypes about autism were so extreme that the very existence of autistic people who were capable of having such conversations was generally thought impossible.

It took another decade, and the advent of blogging, before pro-neurodiversity sites burst onto the Internet in large numbers.  Some of these sites had modest aims, looking to dispel the worst of the prejudices by simply showing the public that autistics could indeed write coherent articles and have intelligent conversations.  Others had more ambitious goals, posting specific, in-depth criticisms of society’s attitudes toward autistics and setting forth a detailed civil rights agenda.  Most fell somewhere in the middle.

How much progress has our society made, since then, toward acceptance of its autistic citizens?  While many are still without jobs in 2011, we’re seeing more efforts to enforce antidiscrimination laws and to include autistic applicants in diversity hiring programs.  Although the schools still have a long way to go, they’re slowly learning how to educate our children in respectful and inclusive ways.  There’s not nearly as much of the ugly rhetoric that was commonplace just a few years ago.  As with other minority groups that have become integrated into mainstream society, just seeing autistic people on a regular basis — both in online venues and in schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods — has brought about more understanding, while showing up ignorant prejudices for what they really are.

Because so many beneficial changes have taken place in recent years, some neurodiversity sites already are outdated.  Aspergian Pride, created to highlight stories about the accomplishments and positive qualities of autistic people, has become an antiquated reminder of a time when many otherwise reasonable folks thought there weren’t any to be found.  Accordingly, the blog is being closed as of today, July 27, 2011, although the site will stay up for historical purposes.  Many thanks to all who have contributed their time, energy, and wisdom to bring us this far.

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Apr 09

Posted: under Research.

The AASPIRE Gateway Project enables the academic community and the autistic community to work together on research projects considered relevant by the autistic community.  In accordance with the principles of Community Based Participatory Research, researchers and community members serve as equal partners throughout the research process.  To learn more about a new study on Internet use, community and well-being, and how you can participate in it, please read the announcement reposted below.


Be Included in Autism Research

The Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE) and the Gernsbacher Lab believe in research WITH adults on the autistic spectrum, not just ABOUT them.  Together, we have created the Gateway Project, which is an online gateway to research that

* encourages the inclusion of adults on the autistic spectrum in matters that affect them;
* includes adults on the autistic spectrum as equal partners in research about the autistic spectrum;
* answers research questions that are considered relevant by the autistic community;
* uses research findings to effect positive change for people on the autistic spectrum.

The Gateway Project needs your help, whether or not you are on the autistic spectrum.

Gateway studies address topics such as healthcare experiences and problem-solving. A new AASPIRE Gateway study focuses on Internet use and well-being, including feelings about connecting with other people via the Internet and social support. AASPIRE expects to use the information learned to understand how involvement in online communities may benefit individuals.

To participate in the AASPIRE Internet Use, Community and Well-Being Study and any of the Gateway Project studies:

1. Register online for a Gateway account starting at
2. Take the online Gateway Survey. The survey takes about 20-40 minutes to complete.
3. Wait for email messages about further studies. You may be eligible for some studies and not for others. You will only receive email messages for studies for which you are eligible.
4. If you are eligible for the Internet Use, Community and Well-Being Study and decide to participate, it will take about 40 minutes to complete.
5. After finishing each survey, you can enter a drawing for an gift certificate.

Completing the survey entitles you to a 1 in 15 chance to win a $25 gift certificate.

If you would like to learn more about the AASPIRE Internet Use, Community, & Well-Being Study or Gateway Project:

Go to the AASPIRE Well-Being Study page at
Send an email to Dora Raymaker at
Make a telephone call to Dr. Christina Nicolaidis at 1-503-494-9602

OHSU IRB # 5568
Principal Investigators: Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH, Oregon Health & Science University
Katherine McDonald, PhD, Portland State University
Dora Raymaker, MS, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network

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A Hunger for Knowledge

Mar 28

Posted: under Academic Success.

At Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, 12-year-old student Jacob Barnett has been impressing his professors with his knowledge of physics and mathematics.  He was diagnosed as autistic when he was two years old because he did not speak or make eye contact.  As reported by, after his parents noticed his love of astronomy and mathematics, they “began to feed Jake’s hunger for knowledge, through more books and more visits to the planetarium. By the time he was 8, he got permission to sit in on an advanced astronomy class at IUPUI.”

Because he had advanced so far beyond his fifth-grade class, his parents decided to put him in an early college entrance program for gifted and talented kids.  He now attends college classes regularly, tutors other college students, and has been recommended by his professors for research work.

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Gateway Project

Nov 08

Posted: under Research.

The Gateway Project, mentioned in a previous post on this site, is seeking to recruit participants to help with its research.  It conducts research on topics such as health care, well-being, and problem solving that may benefit the lives of people on the autistic spectrum.  The Gateway Project is committed to including autistic adults as equal partners in its research team to investigate research questions that are relevant to the autistic community.

To read a flyer with more information about the Gateway Project, click here.

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Autistic Author Speaks

Nov 01

Posted: under Speaking Out.

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg, a Vermont author who learned relatively late in life that she is autistic, recently wrote a memoir called The Uncharted Path in which she describes her experiences of self-discovery.  More information about her book, along with links to reviews, can be found on her blog Journeys with Autism.  She is an excellent writer who speaks passionately about civil rights issues and the need to fight against injustice.

In support of Autistics Speaking Day, November 1st, she is calling on autistic people to speak up on the Internet today to make clear that the autistic community will not be silenced by the ignorance and misguided acts of others.

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Internet Use Survey

Sep 13

Posted: under Research.

Steven Kapp, a Ph.D. student at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies who is himself on the autism spectrum, is seeking participants for an online research survey that examines the relationship between the autism spectrum and Internet use, identity (including language use and neurodiversity), and visual perception.  Scores are completely anonymous, and the survey is for any child or adult of at least 7 years in age who is diagnosed on, and/OR who self-identifies as on, the autism spectrum.

The survey can be found at and can be expected to take at least 15 or 20 minutes.

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Commencement Speech

Jun 21

Posted: under Academic Success.

Eric Duquette gave the commencement address as the salutatorian of Smithfield High School in Rhode Island, graduating with the second highest average in a class of almost 200. Diagnosed with autism as a young child, he did not speak until age five but now speaks both English and Spanish fluently.  He plans to attend Rhode Island College as a biology major and to become a pharmacist.

In his commencement speech, as reported by ABC News, he spoke of his scholarship offers and college acceptances.   Giving advice to his fellow graduates, he told them “do not allow yourself or others to be defined by your limitations but rather abilities. Never underestimate yourself.”

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All State Speech Honors

Apr 07

Posted: under Arts and Music.

Tyler Hurford, a 15-year-old high school freshman in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received a prestigious All State Speech Honors award from the Iowa High School Speech Association for a humorous presentation on dating tips.  Tyler, diagnosed with autism at age two, did not speak until he was five years old.  He developed his speaking ability by repeating lines from television shows.

He enjoys theater, and he would like to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and become an actor.  His coaches and fellow students have been very supportive of his efforts.

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Perfect Picks

Mar 26

Posted: under Hobbies and Interests.

Sports fan Alex Hermann, a Chicago teenager, accomplished the difficult feat of picking every game through the first two rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament correctly on the site.  Although his predictions did not remain perfect throughout the entire tournament, Alex’s accomplishment was nevertheless quite impressive.

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Young Author Wins Writing Contest

Jan 17

Posted: under Speaking Out.

After being selected as a winner of his school district’s book-writing contest, 12-year-old Dyllan Rafail had the opportunity to have his book published.  In “Super Senses,”  he compares his autistic sensory experiences to being a superhero who has abilities others do not share and who struggles with the resulting difficulties and misunderstandings.

According to an article in Ann, Dyllan wrote his book because he wanted to explain his feelings and to help others understand his experiences.  In response to the idea that autism should be cured, Dyllan said, “They’re not taking mine away.”

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