Strength in Diversity

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.~ Maya Angelou

I had an interesting experience today. Someone was reviewing my resume and commented on how many things I’ve been involved with over the years. Also noted was the duration of time I’ve committed to various interests. I know that everyone’s interests change over time, but apparently my pattern doesn’t fit what this individual felt was average.

It was an odd feeling to have my life dissected this way. Trying to find a way to explain why some causes are nearer and dearer than others. I thought that I was just going with the ebb and flow of life. Apparently, I’m not. I’ve always been an avid reader and continue to read 3-7 books per week. I go though phases of genres, but you will rarely find me without a book nearby. I’m a professional student, pursuing knowledge just for the sake of knowing. I take up the banner of many causes.

I won’t dismiss that I share Autistic traits with my children. I don’t obsess over topics to the point of excluding other activities, but I do want to know as much as possible about my current interests. My knowledge is far from encyclopedic as I forget things when they are no longer useful. But, the reviewer though it odd that I can retrieve esoteric information when prompted. I feel like a science project right now.

At what point do we earn the label of “abnormal?” I really want to know how many people it takes to make that determination. I frequently read articles written by adults with Autism that they are tired of being told how weird they are or how they feel “abnormal” because of the way people treat them. After today, I can honestly say I relate.

We are so busy trying to label and containerized each person that we are forgetting that our differences are what make us diverse. This diversity is our creative force. It’s what generates new ideas, breaks new social ground and pushes each of us to be better people. Instead of fussing over our differences, let’s embrace them and use our collective strength to progress towards greater humantity.

Life happens, even when we’re not looking

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on~ Robert Frost

Life can be a tricky thing. It’s always full of surprises, some pleasant and some not so much. Remembering that what some consider pleasant, others consider absolutely horrible is a full-time job. I am constantly amazed at how different people take the same information and shape it to fit their needs.

For example, I raised two children who are on the Autism Spectrum and a third who has her own challenges. When one child was first diagnosed, people were shocked. When the second one was diagnosed, people starting asking me what I did wrong. Did I vaccinate them? Feed them mercury-laden fish? Drink alcohol while pregnant? Breathe in toxic fumes? How could I ever be successful raising three kids when two demanded so much attention?

The truth is, I didn’t “do” anything wrong. Despite what news stories you may have read, Autism happens across all demographics. I don’t believe there is any one thing that is the root “cause” of Autism. All the time spent wringing hands around why Autism occurs would, in my opinion, be better spent raising awareness. I don’t believe there is a cure unless we start messing with genetics. Then we assume that we aren’t going to muck something else up in the process and that is one heck of a slippery slope to start sliding down. So, learn something new. We all do, every day.

I’ll start off with a nugget of wisdom…If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met exactly one person with Autism. Even my two kids, having the same diagnosis and being raised in the same environment, are vastly different from each other. They have different challenges, they learn different ways, they communicate in different styles and yet, they are so much alike. I believe that is because deep down, they are my children and have been shaped by how they were raised. The successful, caring young adults that all of my children have become is because of how they have lived their lives.

Shocking, I know. Life changes us in ways we never imagine. Sometimes, we don’t even notice the change has occurred until one day, we look back and say “whew, that was a wild ride!” We get up, we go about our day and then go to bed to start the cycle over again the next day. Yet, each day is different and how we take in the information and mold it to fit our needs changes us. From brilliant sunrise through the darkening hours, we are adapting and changing.

So, I challenge you. Learn something new today. Randomly type something into your search engine, like “official animal of Scotland” or “Dr. Robert Moog.” Use your search engine to find your Doppelganger (you can look that up too). Play, learn, live. Let new things into your life. I’ll bet you’re surprised by the way your life goes on, even as you’re changing.