Introduction/ Disclaimer.

I have produced these notes as a general response to Matthew Bolton’s article With the silence of a thousand cries: extremes of autistic advocacy as I perceive some Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) supporters using this article to support their stance against mine and Damian Milton’s work critiquing PDA. This is an attempt pre-emptively engage with such efforts before they get going. These are only notes as I do not have time turn these into an essay typical of my blog posts.


Responding to:

Bolton, M., 2018. With the silence of a thousand cries: extremes of autistic advocacy. Disability and Society. DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2018.1454381



  • Author is trying to help autistic persons using psychology.
  • Has observed infighting amongst autistic community, taking extreme views are emerging on social media (no examples) are given. Seems to be discussing internalised ableism (Campbell 2008), or at least internalised oppression in the autism and subsequently autistic community (Milton 2017). Where the oppressed group (autistic persons) adopt and internalise the discourse that is used to oppress them, in this case the medical based autism discourse and how science is superior to lived experience. What you then get is tribalism along lines of community members who have internalised the oppressive discourse and those who reject the oppressive discourse.
  • Ableism are the processes society uses to create and maintain the mythical perfect person, disability is seen as reduced form of this. Dismisses autistic lived expertise can be viewed as him propagating ableism as our opinions are not as good as traditional autism scientists (he really means psychologists and Simon Baron-Cohen in particular).
  • Author seems not to like disability studies literature.
  • Author is arguing: critique the theory, not the person. Sometimes critiquing the person is appropriate, look at Wakefield’s clai, Kanner ignoring Asperger’s work and Asperger’s own involvement with the Nazis.
  • Argued that neurodivergent aligned autistic persons are not respectful of other autistic people’s views. The normal response is that neurodiversity views are not always respected by others (Woods et al 2018). The Nine Degrees of Autism (Wylie et al 2016) book is helpful here as it talks about the developmental growth of autistic persons throughout their lives. Some autistic persons may not be as far along their life paths to have yet embraced neurodiversity.
  • He has done work with Baron-Cohen, not sure what work?
  • Critiquing critical interpretations of Theory of Mind as much as anything.
  • Ignores the nature of autism; autistic persons frequently have binary (black/ white) thinking, intense feelings &/ or passions for topics of interest and autism a particularly treasured topic. Intense debates and disagreements are likely to happen as a result of these traits.
  • Author could be missing the point of neurodiversity critique of autism studies literature; we are critical of flawed research that does us harm. We want there to be more research, primarily support and services (Pellicano et al 2014). I would argue this is supported by Damian Milton’s (2017) stakeholder perspectives in relation to autistic persons’ preferences for critical pedagogical ideology.
  • I would argue extreme autistic advocacy has been around for decades (Woods et al 2018); it is just more noticeable now than before due to growing interest in neurodiversity and rise of groups like Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC).
  • Author seems to be passionate about autism and helping autistic persons.
  • Ignores the growth towards autistic emancipation, rise in social model perspectives of autism in UK. More autistic involvement in Autistica. Rise of Participatory Autism Research Collective PARC and National Autism Taskforce.
  • The use of straw man arguments similar to Re-Thinking Autism Network, possibly due to a lack of referencing our work. Woods et al (2018) comes to mind here.
  • Inclusive language is important, although many would argue medical based language stigmatises autistic persons and causes us more problems than good.
  • Often autistic viewpoint is more valid than non-autistic researchers and being confirmed by science; autistic autism theory tends to be stronger than non-autistic based theories; monotropism and global instability are stronger than Theory of Mind, Weak Central Coherence and Executive Functioning.
  • Author ignores how Baron-Cohen does not fully understand neurodiversity.
  • Or how Baron-Cohen extreme-male brain hypothesis relies on autism stereotypes.
  • Ignores how there is growing consensus the autism gender ratio is 1:1, it is disproportionate for many reasons such as lack of awareness and clinicians misdiagnosing autistic females.
  • Author acknowledges expertise from lived experience.
  • All sciences are subjective, especially social sciences.
  • What is common to autistic persons is that not found in the diagnostic manuals; our culture and how we interact with each other.
  • We do not only engage in perceived harmful and unethical literature, we have to engage with key literature for our own autistic scholarship to get published (could help explain why we critique Theory of Mind so often), if we do not, journal editors will reject out articles.
  • Some literature may have historic value but it can get locked into new literature as it counts as key articles, for instance Baron-Cohen’s Theory of Mind (this is related to above point).
  • A synthesis can be attempted, as Nick Chown (2016) attempts to do in his book. I think it is pointless to synthesis autism theory as any autism theory must also be applicable to non-autistic people.
  • How can they be objective if they are never proven?
  • Also seems to be connecting critique of Baron-Cohen as attacks on science. How good is autism science? They have been spending millions of dollars/ pounds trying to find causes and cures for autism and decades and the best they have is autism runs in families and you may get autistic mice (which is probably projected onto the mice by researchers).
  • Generally this seems to be from a lack of experience and wider background reading, possible air of naivety (I know some people may say the same thing to my own work).


Latest article published.

I and others have a new article published Critical Autism Studies: a more Inclusive Interpretation, which can be viewed at the link below:


Autism Policy and Practice Call for Papers.

The autistic-led (emancipatory) good practice journal Autism Policy and Practice has issued a call for papers available at the link below:


Grace Trundle’s Call Research Participants.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between Autism, ADHD, and personality and PDA. It also examines the relationship between PDA, conflict with the law, impulsivity, and emotionality. We are striving to further understanding of the aetiology of PDA.

The link to the study is –



Campbell, F., 2008. Exploring Internalized Ableism Using Critical Race Theory. Disability and Society, 23 (2), 151–162.

Chown, N., 2016. Understanding and Evaluating Autism Theory. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Milton, D., 2017. A Mismatch of Salience: Explorations of the nature of autism from theory to practice. Hove: Pavilion Publishing and Media Limited.

Pellicano E., et al., 2014. What Should Autism Research Focus upon? Community Views and Priorities from the United Kingdom. Autism 18 (7), 756 – 770.

Woods, R., el al., 2018. Redefining Critical Autism Studies: a more inclusive interpretation. Disability & Society. DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2018.1454380

Wylie, P., et al., 2016. The Nine Degrees of Autism: A Developmental Model for the Alignment and Reconciliation of Hidden Neurological Conditions. Hove: Routledge.

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