Is Normal really what we want?
Today I had the privilege of participating in an interdisciplinary think tank. We were gather together to explore how our educational system can grow and change in response to children who struggle alone with mental health concerns.
Beautiful 1st Runner-up 2013 Change the View
To ensure that we the adults stayed focused and ‘real’ 12 high school students participated along with us. They challenged us see the issue not as yet another problem to be solved – they asked us to ‘get real’ with them – to see them – to be in relationship with them – to know them as they know themselves.
Over and over again I heard the adults and youth use the word normal as if it was the Holy Grail that we all should strive for. Then one of the youth said “I am more than my attention deficit…” and my inner voice took exception to her words. I have attention deficit and because of this unique part of me I have achieved things that I otherwise would not have – take this away from me and I am diminished.
Smile 2nd runner up 2013 Change the View
I raised my hand and offered these words. Normal is to be average or ordinary and what parent dreams that their child will only achieve average, that they will be ordinary. What is normal? I believe that normal is a fantasy and one of the most destructive words that parents and educators use.
Heads around the table moved in agreement and the young woman who described herself as more than said “I want to be me only teachers, doctors, and peer say I need to be their definition of normal” – this I could agree with.
Tonight I Googled “historical people with ADD” all of the sites that I went to listed the following people: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Orville and Wilber Wright, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein. These are not average or ordinary they were exceptional.
We are all equal the winner of Change the View 2013
The videos that are included in this post are from the 2013 Change the View project on understanding children’s experiences of mental illness. Please take the time to view them.
Please see the exceptional potential of all our children and dream larger than average and ordinary.
Know that being mentally healthy is a fluid process all of us have been mentally ill at one point in time.