“The World Needs All Kinds of Minds”

“The World Needs All Kinds of Minds”: Yesterday, February 19, 2016 was the annual Social Justice Conference at Southern Oregon University. The Neurodiversity Alliance of Southern Oregon University was one of the conference speaks, and it was a pleasure to get to watch the group get to speak on important issues surrounding the Neurodiversity Movement, specifically addressing how society needs to change the way they different brain wirings within the population. Topics ranged from how neurodiverse individuals are portrayed in the media (in both negative and positive ways) to the importance of awareness training for law enforcement and other safety public officials, especially in a time of crisis. One of the most important messages of the speech echoes autism activist Temple Grandin’s quote, “The world needs all kinds of minds.”

You Are Invited To…

If you are going to be in the Southern Oregon area this week, then you are invited to Southern Oregon University’s Annual Social Justice Conference. The event is this Friday, February 19th at 4:35 PM in the Stevenson Union Rogue River Room. Come and learn more about what it means to be neurodiverse, why being educated about the neurodiverse movement is important, and how you can be part of this social justice movement.

Coexisting with Identity

“I used to think of [it as] having a diseased, broken brain. That was when I was in eighth grade… I thought everyone else was normal and I was the one who needed to be fixed. In fact, back in the ’08 election, when I wanted Hillary, it was only because she wanted to fund a cure for autism at the time and I really wanted a cure. In high school, I didn’t care. Ninth and tenth grade were both so awesome that it didn’t matter to me what neurology I bore. Though, later when I started to lose friends for whatever reason, I felt that too familiar sense of isolation. Then, I fell upon the concept of ‘autism rights’ and ‘neurodiversity’. At first it was a crutch. The common victimhood/entitlement mentality that sweeps our culture today is something that came and went for me. It soon became a meaningful cause, and I no longer wanted a cure. Instead of resisting the identity, coexisting with it and embracing its strengths and working through the weaknesses was the path to success.”

Preparations

The Neurodiversity Alliance at Southern Oregon University gathers at a weekly meeting to make posters and invitations. By making posters the club has already gained more members, bringing both neurodiverse and neurotypical students together to collaborate in the fight for social justice. Members also make invitations to give to friends and family, inviting them to the annual Social Justice Conference in February.

Come Learn More

‘Neurodiversity’ is the term used to describe the variations of brain wiring in the population. These variations often, but not always, result in the diagnosis of a psychological or neurological disorder. The Neurodiversity Movement promotes the idea that many of these disorders should be treated as differences to be embraced, rather than diseases to be cured. It is largely led by those on the autism spectrum.

New Series: Seeking Social Justice: Neurodiversity

I am excited to announce that the next project I will be working on is going to deal with an important social justice issue. I am following a local neurodiversity-neurotypical alliance group as they advocate for equal rights, culminating in the group’s attendance of an annual Social Justice Conference. I am eager to share the story as it develops, and to learn about this movement as I share it with you.

The Smile

A village elder pauses to smile after performing an oral story about the history of her people. Of all the people in the room she was the most full of energy, of life, and of grace. Her performance was thoroughly captivating, and though it was in another language, she had a way of making you feel, and somehow understand, what she was saying. All eyes were on her, the other village elders, all the volunteers, and some stray school children waiting beneath the open windows. I didn’t have to say much to get this picture, just slightly lift my camera and she struck her pose, and I am forever grateful I got to meet her.

Paradise

On one of the last days of the trip, we went to a beautiful region of Haiti, Jacmel. After walking around the city and visiting a local art museum, we headed for the beach. I have never been to a more beautiful beach than the stony beaches of Jacmel. After being treated to a wonderful chicken dinner and spicy goat shish kabobs, the group watched a beautiful sunset and headed back for our final days in Haiti.

The Flower of the Valley

One of the best and brightest people I met in Haiti. This young girl, who was the daughter of the hotel owner, could speak three languages and was very interested in learning all that she could from our cultural exchange. She played with us, watched movies with us, she cooked with us, and she even volunteered to paint a local hospital with us. This girl holds a pretty big place in my heart.

Boy at Play

One of the many children that I had the pleasure of meeting while staying in La Vallée. Despite this more serious look of concentration, he was a very happy and lighthearted boy, always doing his best to make everyone around him smile. It was fun to watch him play with the other children and the volunteers. He was such a pleasure to be around and I am glad I got to know this bright young man a bit.