The Spectrum of Ways of Being

This month, as we’ve examined pluralism, we’ve considered varying races, religions,
ethnicities…but there’s another variant I’d like you to consider: neurodivergence. I am the
grandmother of that charming, curly-haired three-year-old, who thinks she owns all of UUCG;
that charming, curly-haired three-year-old, who recently tested as autistic.

I’ve been reading up on the condition and on the many misconceptions and prejudices that
surround most people’s understanding of it. In doing so, I’ve noticed that we here at UUCG have quite an array of probable neurodivergent people of all ages. There is an advocacy movement afoot, led by autistic people, not to ask them to strive to become more “normal,” but to allow them to be who they are without judgement, to adapt the environment rather than asking them to be the ones to adapt.

It’s not difficult to overlook an atypical mannerism or two, to recognize that some people just
need to take themselves apart from the crowd at times. We’ve all felt the stress of
overstimulation. Just imagine feeling it the majority of your day. To those who identify as
neurodivergent, I ask this: Help the rest of us out. Communicate your needs. I suspect you’ll find an eagerness to understand.

Recently in service, we were asked to choose which flower we identified with most closely – the sunny sunflower? the caring rose? Some were surprised by the large number of people who chose the sometimes shy, sometimes uncertain violet.

Many of history’s greatest inventions and creative accomplishments have come from people
believed to be on the autism spectrum – Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Emily Dickinson,
Anthony Hopkins. Perhaps it was their tendencies to hyperfocus that led to their successes.
Given an accepting and generous environment, many neurodivergent people can thrive. Let us
create that environment and celebrate the gifts that friends with ASD can offer.

~Lorena Griffin

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1 Response to The Spectrum of Ways of Being

  1. Peggy A says:

    Lorena, thank you for bringing awareness of neurodivergence to all of us. My daughter, Erin, is on this spectrum, also. She is turning 40 years old in a couple of weeks, and her manifestations of autism are constantly changing, making it sometimes difficult to know what adaptations she needs in a difficult situation. She often cannot verbalize her needs. This is frustrating to both her and us. The best thing we can do is just give her some time and some space to calm down on her own. This may be the best thing we can do for all who are neurodivergent when they cannot express their needs.

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