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We Neurodiverse People Are 'Exceptional Terrestrials'

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I’ve always known I was different. Different in social interaction, different in my interests that were different from the interests of my peers, and different in my communication. But nobody told me what it was. I went through school on my own, I studied Special Educational Needs, and became a SEN teacher and a researcher, currently waiting for my PhD defense.

I have a wonderful family. My eldest son was diagnosed with Asperger’s, ADHD and DCD. As he is an exact copy of me, I realized all my exceptionalities fell into place. I realized I had all of the above as well. Interestingly, I have been working in SEN assessment for almost 15 years, and I never noticed. I also never saw my son being any different. In our family he was the same; so was I.

While waiting for his diagnosis, I started a movement in our small country of Slovenia (which is in Europe, by the way).

Instead of looking for difficulties, disorders, I started looking for strengths, exceptionalities, positive aspects of our children with SEN. I started to encourage other parents on Facebook to do the same for their children.

My son and I are not just different, we are exceptional! We have so many strengths one could hardly write them down. Just to name a few:

— empathic and helpful — only to those who are kind to us or who are special and need our help

— excel at math — went to school without ever needing to open a math book)

— have profound knowledge in some specific topics — movies and cartoons, LEGO sets, music, Egyptians, scientific research, neuroscience, robotics

— learn a new language in a heartbeat, and

— always go by the rules and truthfulness, even when it hurts.

The other side of our spectrum of exceptionality are our impediments, difficulties and disorders.

Our mind is faster than our speech, people either hate and bully us or love us, we have meltdowns every now and then, we don’t know how to properly express our feelings, and we talk a lot about our special interests.

In real life, sometimes we act as if we were from another planet, and often feel like that, too. In another words, we are “exceptional terrestrials” (E.T.).

Our inclusion depends on the inclusive policy in school, at work and in other social domains. We always stick out, for better or for worse. As Yoda would say: “Exceptional we are.” Indeed!

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Getty image by Newman Studio.

Originally published: January 2, 2018
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