Different is normal, not wrong, not broken, not in need of fixing.

By Sivan Hong

Language holds power.  We see this every day on our social media feeds, whether it’s something going viral on twitter or a meme on IG that speaks to exactly what we are feeling in the moment.  That is why, as a woman with ADHD, I was so drawn to the term neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is a science-based concept that says that brain/learning differences, like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, etc. are biologically normal or mainstream.  It frames the challenges that come with neurodiversity as differences instead of framing them as deficits.  For me, this was a huge “ah-ha” moment. This one word told me that there was nothing “wrong” with my brain, it was just different – and that was ok.  Different is normal, not wrong, not broken, not in need of fixing.  I can work with different.

As a mother of two neurodiverse kids, it was critical for my boys to grow up feeling that same sense of pride about their brain differences; it was not enough that I felt this way.  Afterall, why should they think of themselves as broken, when they are not?  Their brains can do incredible things.  They see the world in a different way.  There are so many strengths in brain differences, that I wanted then to see those strength within themselves and build on them. The challenge for me, as a mother, was how do to that.  

Like many parents, when I looked for ways to teach my kids, I turned to stories – I turned to books. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that there were not a lot of picture books that showed neurodiverse characters.  I wanted books that could mirror my children’s experiences wearing headphones, chewing gum, playing with fidget toys and their comfort in routine and schedules.  I wanted to provide them these types of mirrors to normalize their experiences, so that they could see picture book characters being just like them.  I wanted them to see that their experiences while different, were also normal.

I never set out to be an author/illustrator, but I became one to fill this gap that I saw.  I created the Super Fun Day Books series to show neurodiverse children facing challenges and overcoming them.  My books are structured like social stories, which is a tool used in special education to help teach children about something that may be hard.  The illustrations in the books are purposefully simple to help keep a focus on the story and the font is dyslexic friendly.  All the books are available as audiobooks to make them accessible to all types of learners. (I happen to consume book best in audio format myself).  

There are days when my children are proud of their neurodiversity and there are days, like with all children, they just want to be like everyone else. I hope that my books help other parents, educators, and therapists, helps children have more days when they feel proud of their brain differences.  As a bonus, books are also windows into someone else’s life, and I love hearing about how my books help start conversations with neurotypical kids about the differences they may see with their neurodiverse peers.  Afterall, as a mother, I can help change how my kids feel about themselves but the world around them has to share in that positive message.

Visit : https://sivanhong.com/

Follow the Relatable Voice Podcast on https://www.luciamatuonto.com/
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