Neurodiversity > Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences


Neurodiversity is a concept that asserts that the idea of ​​normal cognition is a false premise, based on the medical model of disability. The medical model of disability sees differences as deficits that need to be ‘corrected’ or ‘cured’. The social model of disability reconceptualizes disability as being influenced by social, political and cultural contexts, and assigns value to these differences. Neurodiversity, which was conceptualized by neurodivergent individuals, states that all humans are born with different cognitive strengths and skills and that differences in cognition are valuable and even important for human evolution and creativity. In the context of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), advocates of the neurodiversity movement have pushed for a more flexible, compassionate, and less capacity-informing approach to ABA supports for people with autism. USC’s Master of Science in ABA program is grateful for the education that the neurodiversity movement has brought to the field of ABA. As part of autism services, we value the voice of autistic people above all others. We live this value by engaging in honest, vulnerable and candid discussions about the strengths and limitations of what we do in ABA and engage the neurodiversity movement as an opportunity to move the field of ABA towards a more greater inclusiveness, flexibility and less ableism. We believe it is our ethical privilege and responsibility to center autistic voices in research, service and education in ABA services for the autism community.

Trauma-Based ABA with Brian Middleton, Neurodivergent Self-Advocate and BCBA

Understanding the Lived Experiences of Autistic Adults, with Dr. Sneha Mathur


Neurodiversity Celebration Week:

Recommended reading

Angulo-Jimenez, H., & DeThorne, L. (2019). Autism stories: an analysis of YouTube videos by people who identify as autistic. American Journal of Speech Therapy, 28(2), 569–590.–AJSLP-18-0045

Ashby, CE, & Causton-Theoharis, JN (2009). Disqualified in the Human Race: A Close Reading of the Autobiographies of Individuals Identified as Autistic. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(5), 501–516.

Autism Self-Advocacy Network. (2016). Nothing about us without us.

Charlton, J. (1998). Nothing About Us Without Us: The Oppression and Empowerment of People with Disabilities. University of California Press.

DePape, A.-M., & Lindsay, S. (2016). Lived experiences from the perspective of people with autism spectrum disorders: a qualitative meta-synthesis. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 31(1), 60–71.

Murray, D., Lesser, M. and Lawson, W. (2005). Attention, monotropism and diagnostic criteria of autism. Autism, 9(2), 139–156.

Robertson, SM (2010). Neurodiversity, Quality of Life and Autistic Adults: Shifting Research and Professional Focus to Real-Life Challenges. Disability Studies Quarterly, 30(1).

Rosqvist, H..B., Chown, N. & Stenning A. (Eds.) (2020). Neurodiversity studies: a new critical paradigm. Routledge.

Silberman, S. (2015). Neurotribes: the legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity.

Strand, LR (2017). Map the relationships between intersectionality theory and the neurodiversity paradigm. Disability Studies Quarterly, 37(2).

Walker, N. (2014, September 27). Neurodiversity: some basic terms and definitions. Neurocosmopolitanism.

Recommended books written by adults with autism

The best way to learn (and unlearn) about autism is to seek knowledge directly from people with autism. Here is a non-exhaustive list of autistic memoirs and autobiographies. If you know more, please let us know!


book title

1- Jen Birch (2003)

Congratulations! It’s Asperger’s Syndrome

2- Lucy Blackman (1999)

Lucy’s Story: Autism and Other Adventures

3- Samantha Craft (2018)

Spray everyday.

4-Dominique Dumortier (2002)

From Another Planet: Autism From Within

5- Temple Grandin and Margaret M. Scariano (1986)

Emergence: labeled autistic

6-Alison Hale (2017)

My world is not your world

7- Kenneth Hall (2001)

Asperger’s syndrome, the universe and everything

8- Dawn Prince-Hughes (2004)

Gorilla Nation Songs

9- Luke Jackson (2002)

Freaks, Geeks & Asperger’s Syndrome: A User’s Guide for Teenagers

10- Nita Jackson (2002)

Falling upright: Asperger’s syndrome from the inside out

11-Laura James (2017)

Odd Girl Out: An autistic woman in a neurotypical world

12- Cynthia Kim (2015)

Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate: A User’s Guide to an Asperger’s Life

13- Wendy Lawson (1998)

Life Behind Glass: A Personal Account of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

14-Thomas A. McKean (1994)

Soon will come the light: an inside view of the autism puzzle

15- Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay (2000)

Beyond the Silence: My Life, the World, and Autism.

16- Edgar Schneider (1999)

Discover my autism

17-Stephen Shore (2003)

Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

18-Steve Slavin (2018)

In Search of Normal: Autism and Other Complicated Stuff.

19- Liane Holliday Willey (1999)

Pretending to be normal: living with Asperger’s syndrome

20- Donna Williams (1992)

Nobody Nowhere: The Remarkable Autobiography of an Autistic Girl.

21- Donna Williams (1996)

Like Color for the Blind: Soul Search and Soul Discovery

22- Dawn Prince Hughes (2002)

Aquamarine Blue 5: Personal Stories of Autistic Students

23-Temple Grandin (1995)

Thinking in pictures

24- Women from another planet

Jean Kearns ed.

25- Donna Williams (2004)

Everyday Paradise: Journeys Beyond Autism Stereotypes

26- Gunilla Gerland (2004)

A real person: life on the outside

27-Temple Grandin (2005)

Animals in translation: the woman who thinks like a cow

28- Dawn Prince Hughes (2005)

Waiting for Teryk: an exceptional journey to parenthood

29- Kamran Nazeer (2006)

Send the idiots

30- Naoki Higashiga (2007)

The reason I jump

31- A collection of stories from autistic women and non-binary people (2021)

Sincerely, Your autistic child

32- Iris Johansson (trans Karl Nordling) (2012)

A different childhood

33- Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay (2015)

Plankton Dreams: What I Learned in Special Education

34- Jennifer O’toole (2018)

Autism in the Heels: The Untold Story of a Woman’s Life on the Spectrum

35- Barb Cook and Dr. Michelle Garnett (2018)

Spectrum Women: Walking to the Rhythm of Autism

36-Charlotte Amelia Poe (2019)

how to be autistic

37-Laura Kate Dale (2019)

Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman Kindle Edition

38-Charlotte Amelia Poe (2019)

how to be autistic

39-Anthony King (2019)

A Guide to Living in a Bubble: Being Diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism

40-Harry Thompson (2019)

The PDA Paradox: The Ups and Downs of My Life on a Little-Known Part of the Autism Spectrum

41-Anand Prahlad (2017)

The secret life of a black aspie

42- Travis Breeding (2013)

Autism: I also have cravings: my sexuality

43-Marcus Mitchell (2019)

The Hidden Reality of Autism Paperback

44- Eric Garcia (2021)

We are not broken

45-David Finch (2012)

The Journal of Best Practices

46- Derek Volk and Dylan Volk (2015)

hunt the rabbit

47-Arthur Fleischmann and Carly Fleischmann

Carly’s voice

48- Tyler McNamer (2013)

Population one


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