HomehealthThe Intersection of Experience

Since I’ve started studying my brand of neurology, I’ve done a lot of thinking about why we think the way we do. How much is it the way our brains are built, and how much is it built on our experiences?

Personally, I think it’s a combination of the two. Our neurological makeup has a huge hand in how we process information, but what we go through has just as much, if not more, influence. The more I read about the intersection of being part of more than one minority group, the more I see how the struggles we all face tend to impact our thinking in similar ways.

The article Ten ways women think outside the box got me pondering the question again. As I read through, I once again found some powerful parallels between what I’ve learned as a dyslexic individual and what I’ve experienced as a woman. In this case, every single point resonated powerfully with the LD experience.

However, these three are what hit the hardest:

  • There’s more to health than medicine
  • Listen to children to teach them well
  • Question the status quo

Health
If there’s one thing I could take out of this journey is that nurturing good health (physical, mental, emotional) has a lot more to do with lifestyle choices than it does with what medicines I take. For me, medication has a role in strictly physical issues, like asthma, severe infection or pain management. Controlling my environment has a larger role in optimizing my dyslexic strengths, minimizing breathing difficulties and nurturing my mental/emotional health.

The people I surround myself with have a huge impact on how healthy I am as a person, too. In a lot of ways, that’s especially true when it comes to my personal gender identity and ability level. When my cohorts see me as an equal, it’s easier to reach for my highest potential.

I was one of those kids who learned best through hands on experience. I still do.
I also still love animals, even if they do have creepy glowing eyes.

Listen to Kids
This one is especially important. Childhood is the time in which we learn the basics of functioning in society, education and life in general. As adults, it’s our job to teach, guide and provide for them as best we can.

Too often, we get lost in our lives and forget our juniors are also individuals. Not all kids learn the same, which is a main point of this blog. Just because one child does wonderfully in the rote, logic based lessons common in mainstream education doesn’t mean they’re any smarter than their peer who learns best through visual, hands on experience. Sadly, that gets lost, especially when the latter student fails the abundance of written tests inflicted on kids every year.

Taking the time and effort to actually listen to these kids’ experiences and work with them goes a long way to providing them with both the education and the strong mental foundation they need to lead a happy life.

Question the Status Quo
This is another foundation Alternative Wiring is based off of. I’ve learned through experience just how harshly the world sees any type of perceived weakness, and I’ve witnessed others going through similar treatment. Whether you’re seen as lesser because of disability, gender or anything else, the rest of the world judges you more harshly than those who “fit in”, and will treat you accordingly.

That is, unless you stand up and refuse to take it anymore. It takes a massive amount of bravery to do that, though, and always comes with risk.

There will always be those who are willing to hurt or kill anyone who goes against what’s widely accepted as normal. Just look at peaceful protesters being assaulted by the law all over the world, brave young women like Malala Yousafzai and the slain civil rights activists in our history.

Even something as relatively safe as online writing can have its dangers. I recently wrote this article about methods of stopping street harassment, and only a few days later got called a sexist and “overpriced woman”. Those are mild insults compared to the rape and death threads some female authors face on a regular basis.

Disability of any kind, but especially invisible disabilities like those that fall into the learning category, receive similar types of blow back, especially when it comes to getting accommodation. In fact, I have received comments denying the existence of dyslexia or other learning disabilities and accusing me of trying to make the world “too easy” for people who are just too lazy to make the effort themselves.

Those types of comments demonstrate exactly why I write what I do, and encourage me to continue.

When the status quo is disabling us, what choice do we have but to change it?

Those of us fighting for equality have so much in common, regardless of which arena we’re doing battle in. My brain may be wired in a subtly different way than my neurotypical peers, but that doesn’t mean a lot of our experiences can’t unite us.

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