Neurodiversity Celebration Week just ended a few days ago, and I'm flashing back to a February 2020 photo of the assembly and pack out for MindScent® just weeks before lockdown. I make a concerted effort to support and empower people with learning and speech communication impairments such as Autism and Down Syndrome, and the photo featured for this blog are a few of the gentle sweet young adults from Abilis (a 501c based in CT that services people with learning disabilities). Abilis was also the first non-profit of its kind to purchase Essential Awakenings® (2018) for all their group homes.
Why is the week important to me? Correction!: It's not simply only the recognized week, but it is every day of my life because I have a daughter who was diagnosed ADHD, speech communication impaired, neurologically impaired, but never Autistic. When she was young, we weren't even talking about Autism. She, by the way, could beat anyone in Jeopardy and does all of my research! I watched in pain as my daughter grew up in emotionally battered because was bullied in school leaving her stressed and reluctant to go to school. She's getting better socializing in a larger group of people, but is comfortable with almost anyone one-on-one, is charming and absolutely beautiful in and out. It hurts and angers me when some people make fun of, or treat people who are different, disabled, or neurodivergentin a cruel way.It is about time that we acknowledge and celebrate people who are different than ourselves or what some seem to consider "normal" behavior or mentality. What's normal anyway?!!
So what is Neurodiversity? According to Psychology Today (online), "the concept that differences in brain functioning within the human population are normal and that brain functioning that is not neurotypical should not be stigmatized. Neurodiversity is the idea that variation in brain function exists across the population. Differences such as autism and ADHD have existed throughout human history and are not due to faulty neural circuitry. Rather than viewing them as such, neurodiversity embraces autism as a different way of thinking and behaving."
From Wikepedia: "Neurodiversity refers to the diversity in the human brain and cognition, for instance, in sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. It gives an inclusive view of cognitive diversity, highlighting the differences at a neuro-biological level while considering the socio-cultural contexts of a human's lived experience."
It is good to know that there are organizations like Abilis and people like Siena Castellon of the UK who founded Neurodiversity Celebration Week in 2018. My hopes are to help raise awareness and always give support to neurodivergent individuals. Without them, we probably would not have some of the best inventions in the world.