Neurodiversity and the Majesty of Words
What makes certain words special?
Posted March 24, 2021 | Reviewed by Davia Sills
“All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.” —Ernest Hemmingway
Some words give me profound hope, and the word "neurodiversity" is one of them. It sounds good, it looks good, it is young, and it has so much potential. To me, it means every thought, every perspective, every cognition, and every style of thinking, and it suggests a commonality and a generality that is mind-blowing. It is simple and extraordinary in the depths and breadth covered. This is a boundary-pushing, change-making, game-changing sequence of letters that signifies a whole new way of thinking about the mind.
"Neurodiversity" is a winner of a word, in my opinion. How words are born is important, and that applies to concepts, ideas, and theories. The root of the idea often carries the essence of the word, and neurodiversity, to me, is embracing, inclusive, progressive, challenging, illuminating, and kind. It was born out of hope and love. It was created to make the world a better place and to support vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
“She was fascinated with words. To her, words were things of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells.” —Dean Koontz
You see, for some people, words are just words; they are sounds, utterances, noises, and they are all those things to me, too, but words make me feel things. Words make me feel things truly, madly, deeply. I’ve fallen in love with words on paper, on screen, on cards, on film—those characters all thrown together into a formation that brings meaning to the receiver.
I’ll give you examples of words that have evoked emotional responses from me. The word "dump" often makes me wince, the word "love" makes me smile and gives me a warm sensation, the word "onomatopoeia" makes me feel smart, and the word "solastalgia" is so beautiful and tragic I find it hard not to well up when I think about it.
Words impact me greatly, not because I am mad, not because I am unstable, but because I am autistic, and I experience the world differently from most of the population. Even though I am autistic, and the word "autism" refers to the isolated self and indicates the loneliness that often accompanies the disorder, l know I am not alone. I know there are many of us. And by us, I mean the geeks, the freaks, the outcasts, the nerds, the deviants, the rebels, the radicals, the non-conformists, the ones you just can’t put into a box. The ones you can’t explain, can’t control, and who refuse to fit into the limiting prisons of societal and cultural expectations.
“The black sheep are the ones you want to get to know.” —Marty Rubin
The term "neurodiversity" was first coined almost two decades ago and is widely attributed to Judy Singer. She produced this term to open up conversations regarding neurological, cognitive, and psychological differences, and with that, she changed the world for the better.
All the best things in life, be they relationships, experiences, or memories, often come as wonderful surprises. Very rarely do beautiful things enter our life with a thump; they often seem to sweep in like a gentle breeze on a summer’s day or a warm cup of cocoa on a bitter night. That is what happened when Judy wrote an article suggesting a new way of thinking about neurology. She did the work from a place of love and hope, and the results have been immeasurable and groundbreaking.
“One human can change the course of human history—all it takes is the right idea, at the right time, in the right place. And the right place is where you stand at present, the right time is right this very moment, and the right idea is the one that defines your existence the best.” —Abhijit Naskar
I think the concept of neurodiversity is beautiful. I think it is beautiful because of how it evolved and how it came into existence; the foundations and the intentions behind the word are pure. Like the word "neurodiversity," my hope for my contributions as a blogger to this platform is that the pieces I produce will help, will heal, and will be used to improve the lives of others. My hope is that sharing my reality allows others to share theirs. By using my words wisely to help others, I hope it has a ripple effect and encourages others to do the same
“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” —Emily Dickinson
Finally, I would like to conclude this post by reflecting on the word that essentially defines what it is that I will be doing by sharing my life, my thoughts, and my experiences with you on this platform. That word is "vulnerable." I will be making myself vulnerable, which is what we all do when we open ourselves up and share our essence, our pain, and our truth.
I don’t perceive vulnerability as a weakness, I see it as an act of bravery, an act of compassion, and a display of strength and self-love. I want all of us to be able to be vulnerable and to support each other and respect each other. I want all voices to be heard, and that starts with me sharing mine. I want these words to make you feel, and I want those feelings to help people and create a better world. High hopes, I know; let’s see what happens.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” —Brene Brown