One afternoon this past week as often happens, a few of us were sitting in the DRC office talking. These conversations are generally initiated by a fourteen-year-old who spends a large amount of time wandering through the Center in a seemingly aimless fashion until he comes up with a topic that he wants to discuss. Peeking through the office doorway, he checks to see if I am in a mentoring session, and if all is clear, he shuffles in to finally light in the chair on the opposite side of the desk, to begin the conversation with a question. These are usually deeply philosophical questions that center on his personal ruminations. He is profoundly concerned about intelligence, specifically that he behaves and expresses himself intelligently. Over the three years that I have known him, he has independently researched neurodiversity, sleep anomalies, human evolution, religion and spirituality, human connections and communication, psychology, and philosophy to some degree. And, when I say research, I mean to say that he devours information that he finds via internet searches and random you-tube explorations, in a non-linear fashion. He is an artist, who leaves brilliantly intricate pen and ink drawings “littered” throughout the Center. He is also a self-taught musician, who seeks out obscure musical genre and style in much the same manner.
This kid will, straight-up, refuse to participate in anything that resembles a class or group activity. He will not commit to anything that might have an expected outcome. As mentioned earlier, he spends a great deal of time meandering from one room to another, without an obvious destination or plan. To a random stranger, it would appear that he is at loose ends, without a plan or mooring.
On this particular day, I can’t remember the exact question he began the conversation with, but it had something to do with “normalcy,” one of the many things he is deeply concerned about exhibiting. As the conversation progressed, he revealed that he has synesthesia, as does Elian, our new staff person. They were discussing the ability to visualize and mind-map, and I was sitting there, simply trying to keep up and wrap my head around this amazing trait, when I confessed that I don’t usually conjure images in my mind’s eye. They looked at me as if I had two heads while I tried desperately to describe how it works, the closest I could come up with is that it is like almost everything is words, not pictures. I explained that I can’t for the life of me deal with abstracts – which is probably related to my inability to “see” things in my mind. I also have a very mild version of this weird thing called face-blindness. In my case, I, almost exclusively, first recognize people by their mannerisms and the way they move, then I zero in on their face.
At this stage in the conversation, I suggested that despite those notable “weirdnesses,” most people would place me squarely in the “normal” column; because, those particular diverse traits are not easily distinguished or recognized – unless I reveal them. My point being that none of us are totally neurotypical.
I believe that this is an extremely important concept for those who have been labeled and have always felt different and segregated to understand. We all have our own “thing” going on. We are all weird – no one is normal. In accepting, celebrating, and honoring your particular weirdness, you are boldly presenting your real, flawed, and authentic self to the world. And, that genuine person is the one that others will come to know and appreciate as completely and uniquely awesome.
Kid Expo – Deep Root Center will once again be set up at the SLC Chamber’s Kid Expo at SUNY Canton’s Roos House this coming Sat. March 14, with a table full of art and craft items. Stop by to play, create to your heart’s desire, meet our staff, and learn more about all of our programs and services.
Spring Break – Exploration Station. Parents - we have you covered. Your child is welcome to drop-in and join us to explore their interests, create, & play. Register today.
Summer Program - We are in the process of creating a program that is financially accessible to everyone in the community. Stay tuned as we roll out more info.