“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.”
“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.
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.
This beauty, like her amazing owner, has a wild heart and a free spirit. In the simplest of terms, I believe she has the spirit of a true Oregonian.
A big part of my childhood was spent outdoors – and not just on top of mountains. I spent a lot of time playing in my backyard; where I would transform the deck into a pirate ship, or the lawn into Pelennor Fields. It is still one of my grandma’s favorite places to be. She is a Master Gardener, so I occasionally enjoy taking pictures of her beautiful flowers. They remind me to take joy in life’s simple pleasures.
I think for most people who grew up in the Rogue Valley, Table Rock is the center of many grade-school memories. Every year since kindergarten I can remember going on a class fieldtrip up the Table Rocks. I always loved learning about the history of the rocks and all of the animals that could be found living there, and nothing beats the view from the top!
There are many things that make a person an Oregonian, but to me one of the defining qualities is a great love for the outdoors. My fondest memories from childhood all take place outdoors – whether hiking Table Rock with my class every year since kindergarten, or camping in the desert, or playing on the beach, each memory revolves around nature. My grandfather taught me from a young age to have a great appreciation for nature and I have spent many long hours with him on drives through the mountains, hot summer days fishing, and many day trips to one of my favorite places in Oregon, Lake of the Woods.