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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Neurodivergent Leadership: Building Multiple Possible Futures Through Intersectional Interdependence

  • Author(s): Harrison, Laura Suzanne
  • Advisor(s): Fukurai, Hiroshi
  • et al.

Ala Costa Adult Transition (ACAT) and Adult Community Training (ACT) Programs’ “neurodivergent leadership” and “Neurodivergent Education Model” (NEM) present a unique moment of opportunity for a neurodivergent and disabled ethnographer. In the findings from a case study of the ACAT/ACT programs, this project analyzes how “intersectional interdependence” is mobilized in transition-making and how “transition-making,” grounded in self-determination skill training, can work as a model for social movement and change. Through the trope of a Carroll-ian “rabbit hole,” this project travels through its Berkeley, CA field site to explore territories where self-determination skills are taught and shared among/between a majority-neurodivergent group of Community-Based Teachers/Instructors (CBTIs) and intergenerational cohorts of Intellectually and/or Developmentally Disabled (I/DD) adults immersed in their IDEA mandated “Transition Program.” Under a disabled, neurodivergent, and autistic (DNA) leadership, ACAT/ACT CBTIs and I/DD students have, for just over a decade, been immersed in the intersectional work of designing interdependent and accessible methods of self-determination training that resist dominant and assimilationist methods of Applied Behavioral Analysis, Normalization (be it behavioral or environmental), and/or Social Role Valorization. In working toward multiple possible futures for neurodivergent communities un-restrained by neurotypical disciplinary methods of compliance-making, the ACAT/ACT programs offer trauma-informed self-determination skill training for I/DD adults attempting to do the work of deinstitutionalization begun by past generations of neurodivergent leaders that is transition-making.

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