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.”
‘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.
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.
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.
Whenever I travel to a new place, I love getting the opportunity to explore the city. I love watching the people go about their daily lives, listening to the beautiful sounds of their language, so foreign to my ears. I greatly enjoyed spending the day in the back of a small pickup, roaming the city streets, exploring markets and museums. I often think about the sights and smells and tastes held in the memories of those city streets.