Flowers have been used throughout history to commemorate an occasion. They are used to express sympathy at a funeral, love on Valentine’s Day, and celebrations at weddings or birthdays. A flower bouquet is also a beautiful example of how Neurodiversity can work. Neurodiversity is defined how people interact with each other in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to learn. Each flower in the bouquet of neurodiversity is different .
I was handed my bouquet of Neurodiversity as a young child. I didn’t receive this flower arrangement with happiness. I wanted to throw it away and have the blooms that my peers had. The flowers they had seemed to bloom faster, and had more vibrant beautiful petals. I often thought my flowers were weeds, and the flowers that bloomed were not as vibrant.
Each flower may be different but they all are flowers. Flowers all need the same things: air, water, soil, and sunlight to grow. The same concept exists for humans. People with and without disabilities have the same basic needs of food, shelter, water, and air to live. We are more alike than different.
However differences do occur in flowers and with people with disabilities. Some flowers need more sunlight, while others need more shade. Individuals who are neurodivergent need different things to learn, grow and live in school and the community. Accommodations are not an unfair advantage, it’s providing what the individual needs to thrive.
Even if a flower is the same type, it doesn’t mean that it will be the exact same. There are variations in color, shape, and sizes. The same concept applies to people with disabilities. A person who shares the same diagnosis will experience the disability differently. Many people don’t understand why I struggle with math, when most associate Learning Disabilities with Dyslexia and other reading based disabilities. I can’t drive because of my visual perception, but some people with Learning Disabilities can drive, do math, or read well. The diagnosis is the same, but everyone experiences it differently. The judgement and comparison of my disability creates shame.
Flowers also have different seasons that they bloom. The spring is filled with tulips, daffodils, and lilacs. The summer brings Peonies, Hydrangeas and Geraniums. . Fall brings colorful mums and sunflowers. In the winter holly and vivid red Poinsettias brighten the cold gray days of winter. I had to be patient in waiting to bloom. I can remember being so frustrated during the early years of learning. For most people the elementary school years are considered the easiest of academics. School got easier for me as the years progressed. The memory needed for math, and other subjects was difficult for me. When I got to the application of concepts, I did much better, unless it was math or science.
Each flower also has a different smell. Some of the scents are subtle while others have a stronger scent. Certain types of flowers may be too overwhelming for people with allergies. At times having a disability may be too overwhelming for other people too. I have had others tell me that they didn’t want to be in a relationship with me because my disability was too much for them to handle. I have also not been able to meet the expectations that other people wanted. When I don’t measure up to someone, I feel like they are trampling my flower in the dirt. I may not always be everyone’s choice of a bouquet.
Another important part of gardening is pulling the weeds. Setting boundaries and limiting my interactions with difficult people has helped me grow.
Every flower is different but not less. Together each type makes a lovely display. The same concept goes for Neurodiversity. The world needs a variety of minds. I may not be able to do math , but I can read and speak well. I may not be able to drive, but I can get where I need to go. It’s not about being the best, but about using our unique gifts to help each other.
A Lilly can’t turn into a rose. I can’t turn myself into a mathematician. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of flowers to make a beautiful bouquet of neurodiversity.