We Need an Autistic Education…

Published in
5 min readJan 10


Based on Autistic Natures.

“T’aint Teaching If They T’aint Larning,” original illustration by Johnny Profane Âû (Knapp). Published 01/10/2023, AutisticAF blog.

I THOUGHT I grew up in the Autistic Dark Ages. When schools used precision instruments of torture to get medieval on your autistic ass.

Not so sure anymore… Seems neurodivergent kids go thru even worse sh*t today.

🚨Content note: profanity, death, grief, drug, use.

I’m an autistic elder. Did grammar school in the 50s & 60s. On my mind lately.

It was brutal ugly. Bullying. Mockery. Violence…

Autistic education is on my mind cuz I always thought I grew up in the Autistic Dark Ages. When they used precision instruments of torture to get medieval on your autistic ass.

But I’m not so sure anymore… Seems neurodivergent kids go thru the even worse shit today.

This is a pretty delicate area to talk about. And I’m headed somewhere you’re probably not expecting…

So let me ease into things with a story…

See, I have this sister-in-law, “Carla.” I wouldn’t say we’re close. But thinking of Tupac’s quote, I’d have her over for dinner to my table. Anytime.

Quote: “Just because yu lost me as a friend doesn’t mean you gained me as an enemy. I’m bigger than that. I still wanna see y9u eat, just not at my table.” Attributed to Tupac Shakur. In backgroundm black & white photo of the slain rapper, holding a cigarette.
Attributed to Tupac Shakur, image source unknown.

Cuz I admire her. She’s like a one-person Dog Liberation Front.

Now, I love animals. A lot of autists do. I’ll tell ya how a cat taught me the meaning of True Love back in my late 30s… some other day.

But about Carla. Me and my wife were homeless our first year. Couch surfed. Long story. Again for another time…

But Carla’s visiting us one day. Cuz we’re crashing with her mom… in our late 50s. It’s winter on the streets of Bloomington. And we’re otherwise unhoused.

Carla starts peppering me with questions about a dog. Barking & whining non-stop… about a half-block up the street.

“Him? Yeah. He’s always barking like that. Every damn dawn to every damn dusk.”

“Out in the sun?” she asks.

“Yup, in that 6 by 6 wire pen.”

Big woman. Played sports. Powerful square build. When she shakes her head? Puts her whole body into it…

Short-cropped hair whips across her face. “Man. I hate that.”

I go along. You know, the autistic mask-and-shuffle. Smile, nod sagely, blurt something short, agreeable, inoffensive. “Me too.”

“No. I mean it.” She spits out, “I HATE that.”

She does this teeth-clucking thing. Looks away. “You know if anybody’s reported it?”

Now, shaking with anger. “That’s cruel. That dog could die… I know nobody plays with it. I know these types…”

I don’t have Clue One. So we drop it. Go on to other things.

Truth is, my autistic superpower? Definitely NOT the one where you know what to say around strong emotion.

And maybe my love for animals wasn’t strong enuff… yet.

Couple weeks, she pops by again. Surprise!

Jumps out of the black SUV wearing glasses, baggy sweats. And… somehow… she’s got this beaming, devilish grin that just lit me up.

“I did it.” Eyes dancing under dark brows.


“The dog. I freed him.”

“You reported the family?” Oh, g-d. Another neighbor drama… that’s where my anxiety goes…

“No.” Whips off her glasses. Big, dramatic pause. “I freed him.”

Tells a tale of a nighttime raid. Flashlights. Dark clothes. A bolt cutter. And then… One free dog speeding down the road. Looking out the back of an SUV…

“They don’t get to do that. Not to dogs,” she says. Serious… but still glowing. “Dogs wanna run, get in garbage, make puppies. They’re lovers. They suffer without that. Just so people can have mean watchdogs…

“We don’t get to do that.”

Ok. That’s a long windup. Here’s my pitch…

Socrates said it. Until about 12, kids wanna play, run around, explore… Cuz that’s how evolution built their nervous systems. To learn.

Thru integrating the outside world… with our bodies & minds. Syncing our neurology, our rapidly maturing, constantly changing sensory & emotional systems… with Nature.

Locking us up in education factories? As we sit… rigid behind desks… staring straight ahead? Eating & peeing at scheduled times?

Hey, that’s NOT what hairless-ape hunter-gatherers do. Ya got to pee pretty much anywhere back then. When we were still on permanent African safari…

We can’t treat our kids like future junkyard dogs. Or, best outcome to hope for…? Working dogs.

NOW here’s the killer…

Public education is like an assembly line. You harvest a bunch of kids every Fall. On exactly the same calendar date… most convenient to their parents’ work schedules.

Then force them into identical workstations in a diploma factory. Whose system requirements demand that educators grind down every widget exactly alike. Or the production line grinds to a halt…

All this, so students can pop out the other end 7 years, 12 years.. or most likely… 20 years later. As a reliable, bankable, commodity.

All on exactly the same calendar-date graduation.

As if… because they share a birthday… they’re so many identical logs becoming lumber. For consumer capitalists.

It’s bad enough for most kids.

BUT, we KNOW pushing 15, 20%… or more… are autistic, ADHD, or every-which-way neurodivergent.

With different wiring. Meaning, upfront, they’ve got needs that are interstellar worlds apart from other kids. At least 4 out of 5 of them. Sensory, language, mental, emotional, and social needs.

And who experience suffering every day they spend behind a desk. At the hands of classmates. Teachers. School buildings themselves…

The response of the education system? To “re-train” neurodivergent kids who already feel like refugees from a war zone… by using techniques as forceful as waterboarding.

Seriously, academics resorting to abusive behavioral techniques… isolation, restraints, pain from “aversive therapy”…

Even… in some cases… electric shock. Ya know, cattle prods.

I don’t have the chops to be a source of deep information on this topic.

But you can shock yourself with the truth…

Check out hashtags like #StopTheShock #BanABA and read Neuroclastic.com’s archives.

There’s a battle, lasting some years now…
to simply make cattle-prodding disabled kids…
forcing them…torturing them…
to perform acts unnatural to their natures…
👉a BATTLE to make even THAT illegal.

So, I don’t have great hope for reforming the larger American education system. Not short term.

Personally, I think we need to flat-out start freeing some kids.

I wonder what Carla’s up to…?

BTW, I have a new episode out launching Season 3, “Love, Politics & Faking Normal: 3 New Autistic Myths s03e01.” Text/transcript, audio, and captioned video.

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I'm Johnny Profane. 70. Pretend Rock Star… Cuz it's ALL cosplay. I was born before autism was invented... More or less.