The Cognitive Distortions that Feed Neurodiversity Radicalism

National Council on Severe Autism
7 min readFeb 15, 2021
A series of cognitive distortions leads to the excesses of neurodiversity radicalism, including parent shaming, writes the author. [Stock photo of funhouse mirrors]

A young woman on the spectrum sheds light on some forces behind anti-parent cyberbullying.

By Lucy Kross Wallace

A year ago I was en route to becoming the type of “neurodiversity activist” who cyberbullies autism parents in the name of tolerance.

I had every hallmark of such an activist: a recent ASD diagnosis, a desire to partake in the social justice that surrounded me, irrational self-confidence, ignorance of the more severe end of the autism spectrum, and a Tumblr account.

Clearly, if I’m writing this blog post, a lot has changed since then. While I don’t wish to excuse my former self or the behavior of anyone who harasses parents or trivializes autism, I do want to elucidate a series of cognitive distortions that accelerate radicalization. Eventually, these distortions can motivate extreme behavior, including harassing autism parents online, calling them “MaRtYr MoMmIeS,” and accusing them of wanting to murder their children. Disturbing as these actions are, my experience as a former ideologue shows that there’s a way out of this rabbit hole.

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National Council on Severe Autism

National Council on Severe Autism pursues recognition, policy and solutions for individuals, families and caregivers affected by severe autism.