Post 6 for 4/26: Shifting Paradigms

I enjoyed the way that Walker spoke about shifting paradigms, and how we can begin to change the way people view autism. In his piece, he describes two paradigms, the first being the pathology paradigm, where there is one right way to be and if you are not it then there is something wrong with you. The other paradigm is something we should strive for, the neurodiversity paradigm, where there is no normal and it is okay to not all be the same.

In this article, Walker notes that idea that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” This idea shows that if you try to use the existing system to fight for something, it will not work. I think he means that instead of trying to work inside a system, you have to change the system, just like we have to change paradigms. Walker continues by laying out a few ideas that could be useful in order to begin the shift towards the neurodiversity paradigm. He discusses predominantly the words we use in our language everyday. Using person-first language can make it seem as though there is something wrong with having autism, thus reinforcing the pathology paradigm. If we make changes to the way we speak, we are no longer using the master’s tools, but making our own in order to dismantle the pathology paradigm and change the way people think.

Overall, I agree with Walker’s ideas about shifting paradigms. The neurodiversity paradigm should be a goal that we all strive for, beginning to be more accepting and less categorizing as a society. I think this goal, however, will be somewhat difficult to achieve, as it may take a long time, and right now (for me, at least) it seems as though there will always be someone who wants to place people into the “something is wrong with you category.” While I believe in his ideas and think they should be goals for our society, I think they may take a while to achieve, if achieved at all.

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3 Responses to Post 6 for 4/26: Shifting Paradigms

  1. Raquel Friedman says:

    I really liked the way you discussed what he meant about the “master’s tools”. It provides a clear understanding of part of the current problem with making change. I think that many people often feel that they need to make change happen slowly, however, without completely moving away from the established norm of looking at things, progress will never be made.

  2. Madison says:

    Hi Claire! This is a great post. You did a really nice job of explaining Walker’s paradigms, which at first were pretty confusing to me. I also agree that we should strive for the neurodiverse paradigm, though do you think it’s reachable? You mentioned that it will be difficult, but do you see it happening in the near future? Do you think we’ve made progress?

  3. Carolynn McElroy says:

    Claire, this is a very detailed post! I agree that it is important to change the language we use when talking about people, but I think there is much that happens beyond that. I know people who change the words they use around me because they know it bothers me, however it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are becoming more accepting. There needs to be a shift in mentality along with the shift in language in order to make a real change.

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