Neurodiversity: We Are Learning and Growing

*taking a deep breath and cracking my knuckles*

I love to learn. There's the fun side to learning. I get super excited to make connections about ideas and how that can help people. I'm also pretty good at trivia. (Did you know that the tongue twister “She sells seashells” is based off of a real person who found fossils in England?) Then there's the dark side of learning. It's humbling. There is so much information out there that I don't know and that other people do. It's unsettling. The words that I've always used have different connotations now and the range of words has expanded. It's overwhelming. It's hard to know where to start and there is a huge amount of content on the internet- some of it is information and a lot of it is opinion presented as information. It's risky. I know that I'm going to ask a "dumb" question or use the "wrong" words; and I hope that someone reaches out and gives me feedback. I also hope that I will be brave enough to be receptive and use it as an opportunity to grow. 

This year I'm proud to be part of a group at ICAN that is re-evaluating our relationship with autism and neurodiversity as a culture. Our goal is to expand our knowledge and explore what we can do as individuals, professionals, and an organization to be responsive to these changing dynamics. I've been educating myself about what it means to be an ally in a community, how person-first and identity-first language matters, representation, the neurodiversity movement as a social shift, recognizing my privilege as a neurotypical person, and how to listen. There will be more blog posts that take deeper dives into those ideas. 

It's all too easy, at times, to focus on today, tomorrow, and next week and forget that we have the opportunity to make long term impact in our community. We aren't just working with children and teens; we're working with children and teens who are going to become adults in our community. 

All of this is a long road. I fully expect to get lost, get distracted by side trips, miss my turn, get stuck in traffic, and maybe even a car accident. I'm really grateful that I'm not alone on this road trip. 

As Renee Pillo likes to remind us, when we know better, we do better.