Autism Activism: Taking the Mask Off

Exploring Autism Activism Within Neurodiversity Movements

14 November

Elizabeth Radulski


In June 2018, a collective of Autistic Autism activists the #takethemaskoff campaign on Twitter. The campaign highlights and problematises the expectation that Autistic people should ‘mark’ their Autistic traits and present as Neurotypical (non-Autistic) to achieve social inclusion.

Contemporary understandings of Autism are situated mainly within the Medical Model of disability, which understands Autism as a biologically disabling condition that poses its own barriers to social participation. The #takethemaskoff campaign raises the questions: What are the social drivers of masking, and can they be conceptualised as oppressive social constructs which disable Autistic people through enforcing Neurotypical Normativity?

This study aims to address these issues through the Social Model of Disability, alongside Judith Butler’s theory of performativity. It explores whether masking may constitute a form of performative assimilation reflective of Neurotypical privilege and hegemony. Finally, it proposes a series of Best Practice Principals aimed at unmaking Autistic representation, and problematizing Autistic social, educational and employment inequality.

Elizabeth Radulski is the first openly Autistic Autism Researcher at La Trobe University. She is currently undertaking a semi-autoethnographic PhD in joint partnership with La Trobe University’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre and the Department of Social Inquiry.


Time:       6.30pm-8.00pm

             Location: The Alderman (upstairs) 134 Lygon St, East Brunswick

      Format:   45 minute conversation,

                         45 minute open discussion