Replacing the DSM with the Neurodiversity Paradigm

Epistemic Access in Psychology at the APA’s Division 24 2022 Midwinter Gathering by the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology

Fri 11 March 2 pm EST / Fri 11 March 8 pm CET / Sat 12 March 8 am NZDT

In this roundtable we will explore the active disablement of neurodivergent people in developing their identities, ways of being, and cultural practices that deviate from what is considered “normal” according to the DSM. It is becoming increasingly common for mainstream social institutions to acknowledge neurodivergence—including ADHD and autism—as a set of identities comparable to traditional forms of diversity like race, gender, and sexual orientation. This is due in large part to the growing influence of the neurodiversity movement. Emerging across online forums at the turn of the 21st century, this social movement promotes a framework for rethinking many forms of neurological difference as non-pathological variations of human development, challenging deficit-based models of human experience that have been popular throughout the histories of psychology and psychiatry.

Participants will critically examine the historic cultural background, and will investigate the role of specific gatekeepers and the institutionalised gate keeping roles that are built into the disciplines of psychiatry and psychology. In this context we also encourage participants to think critically about the implicit cultural bias that is baked into the DSM and how this bias perpetuates the matrix of domination that can be traced back to the beginnings of the colonial era, and to investigate which institutions benefit from maintaining the status-quo.

Drawing on their own lived experience as Autistic people or their lived experiences at a college for neurodivergent students, panelists will use breakout groups to share experiences and solicit questions for the panellists. Overlaps will be highlighted between the neurodiversity movement and anarchist politics, with both being understood as sociopolitical programs that reject involuntary and/or coercive forms of social hierarchy. The Autistic panellists are actively involved in international and local campaigns towards comprehensive bans of conversion therapies, and are able to offer concrete examples of the extent to which xenophobia has shaped not only the pathologising language and the diagnostic criteria used within the DSM but also research agendas and research funding priorities.


  1. Holly Kasten, Landmark College, United States
  2. Jorn Bettin, Autistic Collaboration Trust, Aotearoa
  3. Karen Muriuki, Kenyans Living with Autism, Kenya
  4. Kim Crawley, Cybersecurity researcher and Autistic advocate, Canada
  5. Matty AKA Existential ÂÛtist, United Kingdom
  6. Stellan Kersey, Landmark College, United States
  7. Tim Beck, Landmark College, United States
  8. Quinn Dexter, Autistic Collaboration Trust, United Kingdom

Background from the perspective of the Autistic community

  1. A communal definition of Autistic ways of being
  2. NeurodiVentures and healthy Autistic whānau / families
  3. Autistic trauma peer support
  4. The continuously shifting justifications for pathologising Autistic ways of being
  5. From pseudo-philosophical psychiatrists to openly Autistic culture
  6. Towards comprehensive bans of all forms of conversion therapies
  7. Education in the ND paradigm and Autistic culture for healthcare professionals