This is about the value and power of neuro-diversity, with Down syndrome and Asperger’s being used as examples.
This is available for free in PDF form and through my podcast, both linked at the end of this post.
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A Round Peg World
We are all taught from an early age to conform and to please others.
We’re taught that if we conform or please others in different ways to make others happy, we’ll be happy ourselves. One of the biggest lessons that we consistently learn while growing up is how to behave in such a way that the fewest people possible will disapprove of us. This is so because if we are disapproved of, we will have a harder time in this world.
One problem with this way of being raised is that we’ll never please everyone. As soon as we are perfectly conformed to one group, we will be out of conformity with another.
As soon as we learn how to please the democrats, the republicans will be displeased! If our happiness is hinging on conformity and pleasing others, we will never, ever be happy.
Another problem with this way of living is that if we are always looking outside of ourselves for what is right and for guidance, we will not be looking inside, and it’s only when we look inside ourselves that we are able to connect with our personal power.
Personal Power and Being Ourselves
We give some lip service these days to following our own inner guidance, urging ourselves and others to “be yourself!’ and “stay true to you!”
All of this is, of course, still conforming, because when we say, “be yourself!” we’re really just saying, “be yourself in a way that makes me feel good and makes other comfortable!”
We’re really saying, “be yourself while staying on the path, now!” Because when someone is really themself and really stays absolutely in tune with themself (and thus with their inner connection with Source), then watch the freak out happen!
Nowhere better is this exemplified, I think, than with people with Autism and Down syndrome.
I am using those two in particular with this because my son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has Down syndrome.
Square Pegs in a Round Peg World
I see this all time with them, people loving them until they get “weird”, loving how smart my son is but distancing themselves from him because of how uncomfortable his stimming or subject obsessions makes them feel. I see people loving my super adorable daughter, but wanting her to change the way she expresses her abundance of joy when she shrieks loudly in delight.
I see it daily with both of them: “just change this, this and that and we’ll be happy.”
But this is thing: they can’t.
As I get to know my children better, I can’t help but think that they were born missing the factor of needing to please others. If I – or anyone else – tries to get them to be like some social expectation of who they should be, we only succeed in making all of us intensely miserable.
This bothered me for a while. I was worried that they would be unhappy or have a harder time in this world because they were not conforming, and thus, facing disapproval.
But over time, I see their inability to conform to be a real gift that they bring to the world and to themselves. They find their own happiness in their lives and depend on no-one to approve of them in order to be happy.
This is huge and has taken me along time to even basically understand. But my neuro-diverse children operate on a different wavelength. They are square pegs in a world full of round ones.
In their being a square peg, I believe that we all benefit, because there is value in diversity and difference. In embracing their diversity and difference, there is joy. It’s like being on a river ride and enjoying the ride instead of fighting it, even though my ride might be different from someone else’s ride.
I think this is where a lot of parents of neuro-diverse people get it wrong. Parents strive to make their kids fit in with a neurotypical mainstream, but that’s not what their neurodiverse kids were born to do. They were born to be like themselves, and there is so much value in that!
The Value and Power of Neurodiversity
As a society, we need to pivot.
So many children are coming into our world now that society cannot conform, no matter what.
We need to see the value in their non-conformity.
We need to recognize the value of diversity – and that includes more than racial diversity, it’s diversity in thought, expression, thinking, moving, feeling, sensing, hearing, seeing and being.
That means valuing the entire spectrum of disability, and all of the intense, amazing, differences that exist in the disability community.
Valuing all of this helps us as human beings to push beyond our round peg worlds, see things in new ways, explore new ways of experiencing the world and understand that no person comes into their full power and ability by striving to be like their neighbor.
We don’t get new ideas and expand the kernel of human consciousness by being like the Kardashians.
No. We get new ideas and expand the kernel of human consciousness by turning our gaze inward and allowing ourselves the space and grace to connect with who we really are.
We expand by allowing ourselves and our children to grow into our personal power, skills, and talents, and by valuing diversity, even (and maybe especially) aspects of diversity that we do not yet fully understand.
Podcast and PDF
The podcast episode is below and the downloadable PDF is linked here and in button below (just click it: it will take you to Gumroad, where it will say “name a fair price” or something like that – feel free to put 0 in the box After you enter a number, it will take you to the next screen where you enter your email address for the download. I do not store your email address and I won’t bug you after – this is NOT a bait-and-switch thing where I say “free download” just to get your email address then harass you. NOPE! The system will just automatically send you the PDF via your email, and that’s it).
If you want to subscribe to my podcast or whatever it is that people do with these things (I don’t listen to podcasts myself and it amuses me to no end that a deaf girl like me is doing this!! ). Subscribe by clicking here or the button below (or just listen to it where it’s linked below in the player)
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.