“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as WE are” – Anais Lin. I love this quote because I can resonate with it on so many levels. It can be applied to anything in your life to give you a different perspective. Now imagine a neurodivergent trying to communicate this to you. The world appears different to them, what we see is not what they experience. Being a Mental health counselor and a psychologist, trained me to be more empathetic and understanding of others’ viewpoints, but what I wasn’t ready for is to view my world differently, AND that is where we, as neurotypicals, fall short. It is not just when one is counseling or interacting with a neurodivergent that one should empathize and be understanding (in most cases neurotypicals are very condescending in their attitude towards neurodivergents) but we should incorporate it as a way of living our lives. Just to be humane, the very thing that puts us on the top of the evolution pyramid. This attitude benefits everyone in the workplace not only the neurodivergents as proven in many studies.
There is so much support for a child after they get diagnosed if they are on the spectrum, parents support, teachers, support groups, etc., What happens when they become adults? The support disappears. They are isolated and no one wants to look at that truth or don’t want to face it. Have we given a thought to why it is easier to support a child but not an adult? How will they become independent and lead their lives? If they are unable to be self-sufficient and financially independent how can we, as a society say we are inclusive?
For neurotypical children, all their needs are taken care of and they have no responsibilities. As adults, however, you have to think of getting a job, managing your household, taking care of your finances, and even engaging in relationships while juggling the nuances of everyday life. Now can we multiply that a zillion times and try to imagine what a neurodivergent would feel faced with this humongous task? This is where they need the maximum support. But what do we do instead? we shun them, avoid and choose not to think anything out of the ordinariness we have built around us.
We want a world where everything is the same, safe, in other words, a world without inventions, out-of-the-box thinking, brilliant creativity, amazing ideas, etc!! How can we grow as a society being stuck in a space where everyone is the same? Differences are to be celebrated not brushed under the carpet. Neurotypicals are like Black & white in the color spectrum and Neurodivergents are the ones that bring color into this world. How boring would a black-and-white world be? The joy when you see a flower blooming, the color of the fall leaves, the reflection of the dense trees in the water, picture that….. That is the world of neurodivergents, all we have to do is water the plants now and then, and that is all they are asking of us. To be a little accommodating and understanding to their viewpoint so that they can bring color into our world. Is that too much for us neurotypicals to do? Are we that shallow?
What makes us uncomfortable is a good thing. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt “ Those small things that make us uncomfortable help us build the courage to do the work we do”. So, let’s be uncomfortable, and honestly, yes initially it might be but believe me it fades faster than the false reality we are living in, that there is a future without neurodivergents excelling in every walk of life! We have to embrace the quality they bring to our lives, as has been proven time and again. For example, how some famous neurodivergents have impacted our lives- Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Nicola Tesla to name a few. It is not about clapping after the inventions or after they have beaten the odds to succeed, it is about being the one to give them the first break, to have faith, and give our unconditional support.
We have to empower them because they are brilliant in their ways, if only we open our eyes and see the world as “They” are. If we don’t, society as a whole is losing out on a huge talent pool and the joy of looking at the world differently!
The author, Geetha Solaraj is a Counselling Psychologist and a Mental Health Advisor with a strong sense of integrity, compassion, and understanding. With over a decade of experience in counseling, she is passionate about the importance of mental health which can lead to a happy balanced life. Geetha is dedicated to working for the neurodivergent community by creating inclusiveness for everyone. Geetha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org