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What has your brain done for you today?

We don’t think about our brains much. If we’re lucky, they just work for us. I invite you to spend a few minutes considering your brain. No, really. Right now. Imagine what it looks like when its working.****** You might see it anatomically or as a cartoon brain or maybe its more like starbursts, arrows and dead ends. It’s different for everyone. Grab a piece of paper and pen; draw it if you want.

Now give a few moments to remembering your day. What happened when you first woke up before you even opened your eyes? What was the first thing your brain did for you? Back up a minute before you go straight to heading to work or making coffee. Did you hit the snooze button? I bet you stopped in the bathroom after your feet hit the floor. Slow it down and go step by step. I’ll give you some time.


Ok. You can stop now or we’ll be here all day. Our brains transition us from sleep to waking and let us know our bladders are full and remind us to brush our teeth and that coffee helps us be kind. They organize and plan. I imagine you got dressed at some point (if not, good for you for working in pajamas!) Your brain reminded you to consider the weather and different environments you’d encounter today and choose accordingly. Maybe you got kids ready for the day, multitasking and anticipating their needs. You probably remembered how much time that would take and gave yourself a few minutes extra if you have slow-moving, curious toddlers in tow. All that just to get out the door. We should pause and give a big shout out to our brains!

A question: what if your brain struggled with just one of these tasks? What if the connections just weren’t there or the wires were tangled? What if information traveled more slowly around the twists and turns in your brain? Or memory flickered on and off like a radio with a wire a rabbit had chewed through (true story in my house.) What if your brain couldn’t filter out stimuli and you heard every light buzz and machine whir, coursing with electricity, as you tried to get ready? Can you imagine? Maybe you don’t have to.

I don’t believe in neurotypical, though I sometimes use the word as shorthand in my trainings on the FASCETS Neurobehavioral Model (where the brain drawing exercise originated). Some of us can accommodate our brain function ourselves and melt into dominant culture, but all our brains are different. Neurodiversity—such an important word. In some cases, people with ADHD, Dyslexia, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or Autism need support learning to accommodate their brain differences. But neurodiversity is about all of us. Let’s commit to think about brain function before reacting to behavior. Learn enough about brain differences to imagine the picture of another person’s brain. Let’s ask people how their brains work instead of interpreting behavior and assigning moral judgements. That’s a hard one because all of our systems are wired to interpret danger or safety based on others’ behaviors. But we can transform.

Can you imagine a world where neurodiversity is celebrated? Gather up all the strengths of everyone you know and put them together like a puzzle that can solve our world’s problems—lack of joy and connection, injustice, mono-perspectives, nearsighted solutions and so many more. We NEED neurodiversity. Tonight, if you’re lucky enough to share a meal with others, bring some paper and pens to the table. Take five minutes to draw brain pictures. Then marvel at how diverse our brains really are and give thanks.


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