Mon, 03 Dec 2018

About spoons and spudgers(*): community repair for neurodivergents

This post explores how repair activities and, more specifically, community repair events are well suited to many autistics and other neurodivergents, and how to ensure that these events are welcoming to all neurodivergents. Its content is based on notes that have been refined in presentations and discussions at Fixfest 2017, Fixfest UK 2018 and the PARC Autistic Fringe (Glasgow) 2018.

Community repair, an activity well suited for neurodivergents

Identifying potential issues

Some recommendations (mostly for events’ hosts)

(*) Spoons refer to Christine Miserandino’ spoon theory, a metaphor for managing one’s energy. Spudgers are flat plastic or metal tools essential to open most electronic devices (and apparently originating from late Middle English spuddle (“short knife”)).

About the Restart Project

The Restart Project helps people learn how to repair their broken electronics, through our Restart Parties: free community repair events where participants can work with a skilled volunteer to fix anything with a plug or a battery. They’re spaces for learning skills and reflecting about how we consume in the first place. Repair is fun, it’s social, it saves money, and helps us be creative and constantly learn.

The Restart Project has been proactive in encouraging inclusivity across genders, in particular with the Rosie the Restarter skill shares. Nothing similar yet exists for neurodivergents.

About neurodiversity and autism

‘Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence.’ Jim Sinclair

‘Neurodiversity is the diversity of human brains and minds – the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species.’ Nic Walker

Autistics have spiky profiles, an unusual combination of abilities and challenges. Autistics can find some tasks easy and others difficult, and this may change depending not just on the task, but also on the environment, and recent experiences. It is common for autistics to be over (hyper) and/or under (hypo) sensitive to some of their senses; and there are more than five, e.g., sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, temperature, pain, kinaesthetic sense (proprioception), balance, etc. Processing sensory information can be overwhelming.

A few links

If you have other suggestions to make community repair events welcoming to neurodivergents, you can post in this thread (free registration required).

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