I’M NOT WEIRD….I’M LEARNING
All children need a safe place to learn. No matter where the learning takes place: at school, at home, or in society, children need to feel valued and loved for who they are. They need to know that the wholeness of who they are is not a reflection of the snippets in time in which they are learning a skill.
WEIRD is a five letter word used more like a four letter word. It holds all the negativity and soul piercing strength of other degrading words used to hold some in higher status over others. Often, this ugly word is used to describe a child who is learning socially what many age-mate peers have already learned. Social errors are not treated as compassionately as other learning errors and the learner is not treated as though he is working on a skill; he is just expected to know the socially correct behavior.
Often, when a social error is made, a child is told, “Don’t do that” without an explanation, or is not told anything in order to steer attention away from an uncomfortable situation. This makes it harder for learning to take place, because the child does not receive the social understanding needed to help them make different social choices the next time.
Rick Lavoie, author of “It’s So Much Work To Be Your Friend” points out that, “a child who struggles with academic skills has to deal with that frustration for only a portion of his day because there are many activities we do within a day that are not academic based, but everything is social.” Is there any wonder why these kids feel so anxious?
It’s like spending the majority of your day playing a game where it seems like everyone knows the rules but you. You are forced to play and when you don’t follow the rule, people get angry with you, put you down, or reject you. Then, you need to do it all over again the next day. These children are incredibly brave!
As a society we need to take responsibility for the derogatory words that we use and understand that watering them down to be used in flippant ways with friends or in minor situations doesn’t excuse the pain the word reaps on others when used in a dehumanizing way.
Lifespan emotional damage or the premature cessation of a life can be the very real consequences for a child labeled “weird”.
Neurodiversity brings an awareness of the physiology that makes us all different and yet the same. We are all wired differently, and it demonstrates the magnificent complexity of every human being. We are so much more than one label, one strength, or one weakness. We all have areas in which we excel and others in which we hope to improve.
We all deserve to be treated with patience and kindness as we learn through the journey of life.