Job Well Done: The Neurodiversity Alliance of Southern Oregon University poses for a photo after a successful presentation at the Annual Social Justice Conference. I feel so honored to have been working with NASOU over the past few months, and I hope that you take the time to look over these posts, or even do some research on your own, to learn more about what it means to be neurodiverse and what the neurodiversity movement is all about.
Small Steps, Big Impact: Looking forward, there is much hope for the future, and it does not take much on your part. There are many things you can do to help society (and yourself) better understand neurodiverse individuals and the neurodiverse movement, such as being patient and understanding of neurodiverse individuals. Take time to get to know them, and take the time to educate yourself by dispelling myths about what it means to be neurodiverse, and never assume that somebody is neurotypical because of the way they look. Small steps can have a big impact, and I encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on this in order to create a more tolerant and accepting society.
“Is This How Society Sees Me?”: While media has begun to include a larger representation of neurodiverse characters in their stories, these characters are often portrayed in a less than positive light. The neurodiverse character is the atypical and viewed as a tragic character, generally serving as a teaching moment for the neurotypical characters. When the media does this it allows audiences only a limited view (as accurate or inaccurate as the depiction may be) of how neurominorities are and perpetuates the misconceptions about neurodiverse individuals. However, characters such as Julia, an autistic character recently introduced by Sesame Street, sheds a more realistic light on the lives of neurodiverse individuals and serves as a positive example and a step in the right direction towards better representation in the media.
“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.”
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.
“I joined NASOU to create connections and friendships, and to stand for those who are neurodiverse. I believe that NASOU’s mission is to bring forth an understanding of neurological disorders to those who do not identify with neurodiverse organizations. I joined in January 2016 and have received amazing support and understanding from others that I can relate to who are on the spectrum like me.”
“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.”
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.