Core issues Blue Ridge Brains is currently working toward now.
Important: This is not an exhaustive list, and will be updated as our neurodiverse community's needs is better understood.
You can help with that by sharing your perspective in this survey.
#1 The Medical Model of neurodiversity has it wrong.
The Medical Model views disability as a defect within the individual.
That's why Blue Ridge Brains #1 priority is to amplify the voices of our neurodivergent neighbors. We must these voices louder than healthcare providers, social services, and parents who default to the harmful narrative that neurodivergence needs to be modified, fixed, cured, or completely eliminated (eugenics), all which cause trauma to neurodivergent individuals.
The Social Model is a neurodiversity affirming approach to disability. It states that disabilities are restrictions imposed by society.
Elevating neurodivergent perspectives will challenge outdated stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. This will greatly reduce stigma and increase HEALTHY support for neurodivergent individuals in the workplace, healthcare, mental health, schools, and more.
Right now, there is a lot of "support" available, but a lot of that support that aims for behavioral modification and compliance, which is harmful in the long run. What's worse: people new to obtaining neurodiversity support—especially parents of neurodivergent children (who don't have a say in the matter) simply follow the advice from "professionals" who "treat patients" from the medical model. People have no idea about the Social Model, or the massive village of neurodiversity affirming support that exists outside of the medical world! That's why sharing our stories loudly matters.
Through stories, the broader community will first-hand see the gifts and talents of their amazing neurodivergent neighbors, cultivating a more inclusive, equitable culture of belonging in the southern Blue Ridge Mountain area.
Are you neurodivergent? Share one of your stories here.
No one's talking about neurodiversity in the southern Blue Ridge Mountain area.
At least, I (Marie) haven't found any organized groups doing so, which is how Blue Ridge Brains came to be. So, Blue Ridge Brains will create (and elevate) accessible neurodivergent affinity groups.
What's an affinity group? They're gathering opportunities for people who may share a common interest or identity.
Blue Ridge Brains will host its first affinity group in January 2023, and will share other neurodiversity-affirming events via email we're aware of them.
Subscribe here for updates.
Majority of businesses and professionals in our area are not neurodiversity-affirming. Major problem.
Most probably don't even know to do so. To combat this, Blue Ridge Brains is encouraging our communities to actively participate in international Neurodiversity Celebration Week—which as you can see, there's practically no one in our area participating, so far.
So, we'll invite and support healthcare practices, mental health practitioners, schools & learning communities, and community businesses to participate in Neurodiversity Celebration Week.
The more neurodiversity-affirming volunteers we have in our area, the faster we can get this done, and the more neurodivergent individuals and families will be supported.
#4 It's almost impossible to find neurodiversity-affirming support that really gets you and doesn't call your neurodivergence a "mental illness"
Have you tried finding a psychologist, or therapist who is neurodiversity-affirming? Have you found a practitioner around here who doesn't recommend harmful ABA therapies? Do you know of a learning space that's child-centered and values connection over compliance? That's what we're talking about.
BRB is growing a reliable directory of neurodiversity-affirming spaces and professionals, so that that our community has vetted, "safe" choices.
#5 You don't know what you don't know.
Of course, there are extremists out there who want to "cure" things, like Autism and ADHD through traumatizing "treatments" and eugenics. That's a big problem that I'm not sure how to tap into yet.
The broader public, however, aren't those people. Unless a person has a direct connection with a neurodivergent individual, they simply don't know about, much less understand neurodivergent challenges.
Blue Ridge Brains will extend the olive branch to those people, because those people will do better once they're aware of the disparities they can easily help accommodate in this neurotypical-made world.
Blue Ridge Brains will grow this website and our social platforms with educational content and stories that centers neurodivergent voices.
Those are just the first five problems. There are more dire problems at hand, like a particular medication that's inaccessible, or equitable access to diagnosis that could give a family disability income. However, as one person right now, I believe the biggest way I can help is by: getting the broader conversation about neurodiversity affirmation going, creating a central hub to amplify voices (like yours), elevate efforts already being made (once I hopefully find and connect with those people).
Why? It's simple: We're stronger together.
Want to get involved with one of the above issues? Email Marie here to introduce yourself, and how you'd like to help.