Reflections on the neuro-divergent experience in a neuro-typical world.

"It’s not all lost keys ... His ADHD enriches us more than it holds us back."


"It’s not all lost keys ... His ADHD enriches us more than it holds us back."
Lost and Found -- Liz Ross

Sneak peak from the up-coming issue -

Life with an ADHD partner is like a broken record that you keep replacing because someone else lost it. The album is a beautiful symphony when it’s playing smoothly but is not without the constant repeating and replacing. Mostly, we look like any family of 3. Our favorite activities outside the house are camping, hiking, and traveling within the US and to other countries. We have a busy schedule during the week, full of gymnastics, swimming, tennis, homeschooling, Zooming, tap dancing, girl scouts, and lots of DIY activities and home projects. We don’t have to look very hard to find ways to fill our time, probably because we have to look hard for just about everything else.

My husband is the kindest, most ethical, caring, and thoughtful man. He is an amazing father, as solid and dependable as a family could want. He also loses things at a faster rate than our six year old. Every evening, after coming home from a 10 hour work day, I’ll spend another hour looking for things that have been misplaced, relocating items that are in the wrong locations, and conducting a house-wide sweep picking up the 20 or so things he genuinely does not see on the floor. But I also find things when I’m not looking for them. That’s why every room has a box labeled “Does Not Belong Here,” which I can toss items into and then replace all at once later on, when I have the time or energy. Some items in our house are mine alone and kept in my own space, so I can find them when needed. There are entire tool sets with screwdrivers, measuring tape, and socket wrenches that are off limits to him. We have four pairs of scissors; when we are down to our last one, I search the house to gather all of them and we start over. And while I’m looking for all the scissors, I’ll preemptively rummage through every drawer in the house to recover things I didn’t yet know were lost. Still, I have not been able to locate my favorite shirt in years. Sometimes I have found missing clothing in my 6 year old daughter’s closet and visa versa. Fortunately, my daughter and I fit in the same size socks, so I have at least eliminated that as an issue.

My husband’s favorite inspirational motto is “It’ll turn up.”

After 14 years of being together, I have learned some systems that work and some that work at least well enough. The house is full of labels marking where things should go, but I usually find items in the wrong place, anyway. All over the house there are lists of everyday tasks that need to be done, things like finding and picking up five items off the floor, doing the laundry, or refilling the toilet paper and soaps. These lists of reminders are easily forgotten, though. He needs reminders to check the reminders, and I have alarms set on my phone to remind me to remind him to check those reminders. I have learned not to expect him to plan or organize any of our finances, vacations, house projects, homeschool planning, extracurriculars, or other responsibilities. I’m generally a calm, tolerant, patient person, though I do have my moments after the twentieth time I’ve said or done something to find/tidy/relocate items in the house. I have learned that he needs to put in three times the effort in order to get to 100% and we continue to learn together to figure out where our respective 50/50 is.

Living with a partner who has ADHD is also expensive. Early in our relationship, before I knew to look out for these things, he lost out on about $3000 of financial aid for school because of missing a deadline. We now don’t miss any deadlines, his credit report is cleaned up, and everything is back on track—but it’s work to stay on track. Once or twice a month, I have to buy a replacement of something—not because it’s at the end of its use, but because it is lost. We’ve had to spend more than $500 to replace lost smart keys for our cars. I could have saved my money and looked for them a 50th, 60th, or 70th time. Instead I chose to save my sanity and just buy new ones.

It’s not all lost keys and missing scissors, though. His ADHD enriches us more than it holds us back. He’s fun and spontaneous. While I’m ready to plan out the day, he is ready for the moment. We complement each other; I plan and manage and he makes things happen. If I get stuck in the weeds with planning, he gets things moving forward. I’ll plan out the activities and time and packing list for a snow day, but we’d never leave the house if he didn’t take charge to implement the plan. Along with forgetting where he put something, he also forgets that he’s mad and easily forgives people. He never holds a grudge because he can’t remember he has one to hold. He is tolerant of my faults and my personality quirks. Even at his angriest, he is gentle. He tries hard and I know the intentions are there.

He may forget where he put the screwdriver, but he can remember every single hiking location we’ve been on and take us back there. He knows exactly which part of what beach is the best for boogie boarding or paddle boarding with our daughter. He has an internal map and without using navigation can take us almost anywhere. He is an economics and political science buff, a walking encyclopedia, and the answer to almost any question I or my daughter may have is somewhere in his brain. I have seen him spark conversations with anyone, no doubt knowing something about their country or favorite hobby and having unending curiosity about it. He is our family chef and knows what all of my and my daughter’s favorite dishes are. I am grateful for a husband that is egalitarian and chips into all our shared responsibilities; if he’s not helping it’s only because he forgot he said he would. I am grateful that we hold the same secular parenting ideals and are very closely aligned on political inclinations. Although we don’t agree on everything, our approaches to life and bringing up our daughter are usually on the same page.

In the hardest times of our relationship, and in contemplating the challenges that can come up in relationships in general, his ADHD doesn’t even register as an issue for me. It’s a big part of what makes him who he is; there’s no one I’d rather be with than my husband. Every time I find myself searching for something he lost, I’m reminded of how happy I am to have found him.

Articles


Featured Program - The Laurinburg Institute


The Laurinburg  Institute
Leon Rice

"The Laurinburg Institute taught me how to live and thrive in America while being black."

At the turn of the last century, education was not readily accessible to African Americans. Public schools were not open for blacks in the south, for many reasons—share cropping, black codes, and the fact that America was just 41 years out of slavery. The farm owners did not want educated African Americans; they wanted fieldhands to pick crops. It did not make economic sense to the land owners, who preferred to keep the workers illiterate. If members of the black community wanted an education, they’d have to do it for themselves.

In 1904, Emmanuel And Tinny McDuffie came from Alabama by foot to Laurinburg, North Carolina to start a school for the black community. This came about through the request of a local businessman, W.P. Evans, who wrote to Booker T. Washington at the Tuskegee Institute asking for help to educate the growing black population of his town. Tuskegee had no one available to help and turned to Mr. William Edwards at Snow Hill Academy in Alabama for a recommendation. He nominated the McDuffies, recent graduates of Snow Hill, who readily agreed to go to North Carolina. When they got to Laurinburg, the McDuffies and the Laurinburg community founded and built the school on a small parcel of swampland. With 15 cents in the treasury and its first student starting in September of ‘04, Laurinburg Institute was born.

Laurinburg was one of more than 100 black boarding schools along the east coast and in the deep south. Today only a few still survive. Nevertheless, schools like Laurinburg Institute—or Piney Woods in Mississippi—are needed now, maybe more than ever. They are life saving institutions for many young black men and women coming from the inner cities and poor rural areas of America. One only needs to look at what’s happening in black America today to see why.
In 1954, thanks to the Supreme Court, desegregation in public schools became the law of the land. School systems suddenly needed to accommodate many more students, and found they were in need of new buildings. In Scotland County, where Laurinburg was, officials asked the McDuffie family to transfer the school over to the county so they could avoid having to put up a new brick building. The McDuffie family had the sense to refuse the request, and the county threatened to shut the school down. The institute was moved, brick by brick, to where it stands today, in order to escape further troubles.

There are many prep schools in every population center in the US, but very few prepare students the way Laurinburg Institute does. The Institute teaches the whole person, explicitly teaching the skills you need to navigate the majority culture as well as academic skills and athletic skills you find at most prep schools.. They teach you how to carry yourself as an African American and be successful in life well after your high school days are gone.
Not many secondary schools teach young black men how to handle adversity and setbacks as stepping stones to get to their goals. Laurinburg’s motto is “Deeds not Words”—students learn to assess, adapt, and overcome the many challenges that young black men and women face. I remember seeing kids come to Laurinburg Institute as weak students, struggling academically, and with a poor sense of themselves in the world. The faculty would work with students one-on-one to get them up to speed. They were doing this long before all the advances for students with learning differences came along. Their model was to take each student as they were, and to work with her or him as a unique person.

At Laurinburg Institute every moment in the day was a teaching moment—way beyond the usual curriculum. I remember going to the store and a member of the faculty asked me, “Do you really need that?” He asked me to think about where I spent my money and what I spent it on. The question would become, “Is this a need or a want?” This lesson was taught to me by the Headmaster and President of the school, Dr. Frank McDuffie Sr. He taught us that every dollar is power, capital power. He encouraged us to think about who we handed that power to, so we wouldn’t blindly give it to those who didn't care about our community. That’s a lesson every school should teach, that capital is the true power in the US.

It seemed that at the Institute you could catch a lesson at any time. I got schooled on everything. Once I was reading a book called the Black Titan about the life of A.G. Gaston, a black businessman and millionaire. Dr. McDuffie and his brother caught me reading it, so right then and there they told me to complete a book report for them, due by Monday—less than a week away. Well, Monday came and I remember quietly handing the assignment to the secretary, hoping I could avoid having to talk about it. I knew if I handed it in to Dr. McDuffie, he’d ask a bunch of questions and I’d have to talk. I thought I was in the clear, but later in the day Dr. McDuffie caught me at the end of an assembly and had me tell the whole school about the book. What started as a book report turned out to be a lesson on being able to speak in public. By me being put on the spot, this experience taught me how to rise to the occasion and get things done. There were no shadows to exist in at Laurinburg.

These lessons have served me well, way beyond the usual prep school education of academics and sports and leadership. Now, I could sit here and name all the famous people who came through Laurinburg to show I’m not the only one who left there and made good in the world. But that’s not the kind of success I’m talking about. Let me get to the heart of the matter: The Laurinburg Institute taught me how to live and thrive in America while being black. That’s been a huge influence in my life, and schools like Laurinburg and Piney Woods provide a model for how we could reach the divergent community.

Laurinburg Institute trains students to succeed by fundamentally understanding the challenges they face and providing role models who can show you the way through them. The schools recruit students who would ordinarily never have the chance to attend a private school, kids from the inner cities of America or war-torn countries where life has little value. The Laurinburg model takes these students—many of whom have already been written off by society—and helps them find the skills and confidence to face a world that will use any excuse to write them off.

So, students like me—struggling to find their confidence in a world of misunderstanding and institutional barriers—are transformed into confident, active members of society. We go out into the world armed with the tools of argument and research and evidence, as well an understanding of the ways we do fit into society. All schools should follow the example of Historically Black institutions like Laurinburg and remove the shadows that the divergent community exists in right now. When the faculty and community all fundamentally understand the issues facing the students, they can be taught to adapt and overcome, no matter what obstacles we face. I learned that at Laurinburg, and it’s a lesson that’s lasted.



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You can donate to our GoFundMe using the button above. For more information, watch the video below.


Submissions


Submissions
Call for Submissions, Winter Issue

What is it like to date a neuro-typical? 

To get through this long, pandemic winter, Divergents Magazine wants to hear your experience of love. How do you lavish attention on your partner when you’re ADHD? How do you meet someone in a culture obsessed with non-verbal social-cues? How do you write a love letter when writing gives you anxiety? We want to hear any and all ways in which your interactions with the neurotypical world colors this most human of experiences. Send us your essays, fiction, art, and poems reflecting on the navigation of romantic relationships.

The deadline is Valentine’s Day—February 14, 2021. We’d love to hear from you.

To submit your writing or art, read the relevant guidelines below:

Prose and Poetry Submission Guidelines

We are always looking for essays, opinions, creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for inclusion in Divergents. Our content is made for, by, and about the experience of living atypically in a neurotypical world. We are especially interested in stories that celebrate neurodiversity and feature the unique ways divergent populations interact with and contribute to their communities. We love stories that raise awareness of ancillary issues neurotypicals might not have ever thought of. For example, a story about your Autism diagnosis and what that means isn't quite what we're looking for. A story about having a scary run in with the police because they aren't trained to identify or deal with people on the spectrum is.

For all submissions, the following criteria apply:

  • Submissions should be emailed to submissions@divergents-magazine.org
  • Your submission should either be attached as a Word document (.doc) or a working link to a Google Doc. 
  • While we don’t have hard limits on length, prose submissions are ideally between 2,000 and 3,000 words. Poetry should be able to fit on one page (Sorry, Dante)
  • In your submission document, include the following information at the beginning, before the body of the piece: 
    • Title
    • Your name as you’d like it to appear
    • Your email address
    • Your physical address (for your complimentary copy of the magazine)
  • If we accept your submission, understand that we may make changes to it for issues of length, clarity, or tone. 

Visual Art Submission Guidelines

We want to see any art in any medium: paintings, drawings, collages, mosaics, sculptures, and more are all welcome.

  • Email one or two images of your work to our Arts Editor, Christina Tedesco: Arts@divergents-magazine.org, or send to us using WeTransfer to the same email address
  • Total size of image file should be no more than 50MB. 
  • Images should be high resolution (300 dpi)
  • Each image submission should be no larger than 1200 pixels on the longest dimension . 
  • You can send images smaller than this if that's all you have, but we may not be able to make it work. 
  • If you need help making your image 300dpi check out this tool
  • If you're unsure of how to best photograph your artwork, this video can help you.  
  • If you have any questions you can email Christina Tedesco: Arts@divergents-magazine.org

Correspondence


About Divergents


About Divergents
In a 2014 interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Jerry Seinfeld confessed that he suspected he might be on the Autism Spectrum. This casual quip stirred an angry backlash from the ASD community. Some felt this offhand self-diagnosis trivialized the struggles of people who actually are on the spectrum—60% of whom are blocked from employment, while those who do manage to get jobs are constantly judged and targeted by neurotypical bosses and coworkers.

Furthermore, I will admit that when I disclose my own diagnoses of Dyslexia and ADHD, people often say, “I think I might have ADD” or “I get so dyslexic after 3 in the afternoon!” They use my labels for cultural memes of self-deprecation. Sometimes, a defensive response will rise up in me. 

How dare you? I think to myself. 

Did you spend seven years of supplemental tutoring just to learn basic reading? How many times have you lost your keys? Your favorite jacket? 

It can feel as if these casual acts of self-diagnosis marginalize the real struggles we face.
     
Nevertheless, it is a fact: the systems that decide who gets a divergent label is at its heart political, not scientific. The neurotypical school system works to limit the number of diagnosed people to 14% of the population. Most school systems are under pressure to reduce that number to 12%. Because the neurotypical system charges at least twice as much to educate divergents, there is constant pressure to reduce our numbers and save money.
     
Meanwhile, the science suggests that taken together we actually represent a much larger cross section. Sally Shaywitz of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity believes that 20% of the population fits the label of Dyslexia. A 2016 CDC report found that that 9.4% of children will receive an ADHD diagnosis, and they have doubled the number predicted to have ASD to 2% and climbing. In other words, the science suggests that as many as 30% of the population is divergent, but the schools want to limit that number to 12%. It stands to reason that somewhere between 10% and 15% of the population are in fact divergent but undiagnosed. Furthermore, almost all adult cases start as a self-diagnosis leads them to seek a professional evaluation—often costing them thousands of dollars out of pocket.
     
To the undiagnosed millions, we say: save your money. We encourage you to stand up and identify yourself as Divergent, to join the growing community. When someone like Jerry Seinfeld or David Byrne does this, they use their influence to shine a light on all of us. Yes, there is a big difference between Amanda Baggs and David Byrne—Byrne gets invited to a lot more parties—but they both add tremendously to all of our lives. And that’s the thing about a spectrum: it’s a spectrum. The further a person is from “typical,” the more difficult it will be to live in the systems designed for the majority. 

Take, for example, the spectrum of height. We all fall somewhere on the height spectrum with ramifications for our abilities. Tall people are better at basketball and changing light bulbs; short people are better at hockey and hiding in small places. Meanwhile, out at the far ends of the spectrum of height it becomes more difficult to fit the mainstream. People who are very tall need special clothing, have trouble in buildings with low ceilings, and may experience medical issues. People who are very short need modified light switches, step stools to cook on a stovetop, and may experience medical issues. Although Amanda Baggs is clearly further out on the spectrum than David Byrne, I find them equally inspiring as voices of the culture. We need all of these voices in order to better understand what it means to be human.
     
Divergents Magazine wants the millions of undiagnosed people living with a sense of isolation and shame, never quite fitting the expectations of the world, to understand that they are not alone. Perhaps you have lived your life as a misfit. Perhaps you have struggled with depression, addiction, anxiety—or any of the ancillary diagnoses that stem from the core disconnect between neurotypical expectations and your truth. Divergents Magazine is for you, too. We hope you hear your story reflected in the fearless words of our authors. We hope you recognize the myriad feelings captured by our artists. We hope that, as you read and take in these images, you come to accept that there is nothing truly wrong with you. You are different but you are still profoundly human. And you are not alone.

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Support the Mission

Divergents Magazine seeks advertisers for our 2021, Winter Issue. Featuring artists and writers from all over the world, the Winter Issue will land at every University Disability Office and Educational Consultant’s office in the US. Printed in full color on high gloss, high quality paper, Divergents Magazine is the first international neurodiversity journal, exclusively focused on the work and experience of the neurodivergent community. Every artist, writer, or thinker featured has been diagnosed with one or more derogatory labels -- Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism Spectrum etc. Unlike existing publications in the field highlighting the work of neuro-typical “experts,” Divergents Magazine is by, for, and about people from families with minority neurological profiles. Where your advertisement will go: International Educational Consultants Association: Divergents Magazine will send complimentary copies of the Winter Issue to all 2,000 members of the IECA. Many families turn to educational consultants when they are not getting the support they need in school. Association of Higher Education and Disability: Divergents Magazine will also send complimentary copies of the Winter Issue to all 4,000 members of AHEAD. AHEAD is the organization of professionals who work in the disabilities offices at Colleges and Universities. This is your chance to reach the professional influencers you need to recommend your products. Furthermore, copies of your ad will be lying around the waiting rooms of every college disabilities office for the foreseeable future. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely - Leon Rice Director of Advertising Divergents Magazine Phone: 773-596-7639 Email: Leon@divergents-magazine.org


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Divergents Staff


Divergents Staff
Editorial Staff

Alethia Smith - Lifestyle Editor
Anna Harris --Director of Development
Ben Mitchell - Publisher - Ben.Mitchell@divergents-magazine.org
Christina Tedesco - Arts Editor - Arts@divergents-magazine.org
Dave Eagle - Story Editor - Dave@divergents-magazine.org
Jake McLaughlin - Social Media Editor - Jake@divergents-magazine.org
Leon Rice -- Director of Sales and Marketing - Leon@divergents-magazine.org
W.W. Stevenson - Graphics Editor - W.W.Stevenson@divergents-magazine.org


Divergents Publishing: Editorial Board - If you are interested in joining the board, please contact us.

Alethia Smith - Lifestyle Editor
A native of St. Louis, Alethia holds an Associate degree in art, a Bachelor of Arts in human services, and a Master of Arts in teaching. As well as being an Accredited event designer. Alethia worked as a residential assistant in college, where she was responsible for coordinating multiple events for hundreds of students. This is where she developed a true love for event planning. After college, she led a number of independent partnerships, focused on developing and managing promotion events. She is known for engaging her talents and ideas in fun, exciting, and unconventional ways.
It's the most minute details that make an event successful, and Alethia is the master of the little things. She has the ability to transform and perfect your vision and impeccably execute the detail to create an amazing event. With over a decade of experience planning galas, fundraisers, weddings, and festive events of all kinds, Alethia understands how to fit everything together to create a flawless and remarkable event.

Anna Harris, Director of Development
Anna Harris was born in Waterbury CT on July 1st 1987, attended North Andover public schools and after graduating high school in June of 2006, started Landmark college in the fall of 2006. She received her associates degree in the winter of 08. Her diagnosis are Cerebral palsy, Non verbal learning disorder, bipolar disorder and anxiety. I am thrilled to be the director of development for Divergents magazine. I hope to make you all proud and get donations for what will be an amazing magazine.

Ben Mitchell, Editor-in-Chief -Ben.Mitchell@divergents-magazine.org
With an MFA in Poetry from Goddard College, Ben Mitchell has published poems in more than fifty literary magazines all over the US, Canada, and the UK. Mitchell’s first book of poems, Only the Sound Itself, was published by Codhill Press in 2010. In 2012, Mitchell was one of four poets invited to read his work at the first poetry reading of Parabola magazine. Mitchell is currently completing a book called The Bigotry of Normal, reflecting on thirty years working in the field of special education as an individual diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD. He started Divergents magazine as a natural result of the themes in his book: all voices deserve to be heard.

Christina M. Tedesco, Arts Editor - Arts@divergents-magazine.org
Christina M Tedesco is an artist, a poet, and museum attendant for the Harvard Art Museums. With an MFA in studio arts from Tufts University in affiliation with School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Christina’s work has been featured at galleries in the U.S. and Canada, including the Joseph D. Carrier Gallery of Toronto and the Massachusetts State House. In 2018, Christina was awarded a Local Cultural Council fellowship from the Somerville Arts Council and is the Timeline Manager for Somerville Open Studios. Christina also happens to have Cerebral Palsy and Dyslexia. Go to christinamtedesco.com to see her artwork.

Dave Eagle, Story Editor - Dave@divergents-magazine.org
Dave is a writer, chef, and photographer, in that these are the most recent things he has been paid for. There are another half-dozen careers he’s given a whirl, but they bored him. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, as well as other places that aren’t nearly as impressive. You can see samples of his work at http://quasiprofessional.com, his third attempt at an online portfolio which isn’t quite done and may well never be. Dave holds a Bachelor’s degree in Writing & Literature, then abandoned his MFA when he was 32 credits in. It’s kind of a pattern for him. He died of a heart attack in November of 2019, but couldn’t even stick with that. True story.

Jake McLaughlin, Social Media Editor & Field Journalist -  Jake@divergents-magazine.org
Jake McLaughlin is from Hanover, New Hampshire. He is an avid cyclist and has participated in many long distance rides and races. He attended Landmark College and earned his Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies/Motivational Psychology in 2017. Jake struggles with depression and also has Asperger’s. Jake has performed a handful of open mic standup comedy showcases. He uses comedy to not only bring light and levity to his struggles, but to also help others around him to understand his perspective.


Leon Rice, CIvil Rights Editor - Leon@divergents-magazine.org
Leon was born into the Civil Rights movement: in the 1960’s, his grandfather had to move his family and career from Natchez, Mississippi to Chicago, Illinois. As a prominent member of the NAACP, he found himself next on the KKK hitlist, just after Medgar Evers. This has formed the foundation for everything that came after. Leon graduated from Landmark College as a member of Phi Theta Kappa. During his time at Landmark, he served as the VP of the campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and the first black male Residence Advisor. Over the years, he’s been a basketball coach, an educator, an entrepreneur, and most notably, a writer and a photographer.

Will Stevenson, Graphics Editor - W.W.Stevenson@divergents-magazine.org
Will Stevenson is a resident of Red Bank New Jersey and has been doing creative work for most of his life. His art career started at age 14 in Mansfield Middle School in Connecticut, where his Social Studies teacher recognized a talent and suggested a creative project for academic credit. This was then realized by the painting of an historically themed mural on a classroom wall. He exceeded expectations of the Board of two prestigious Art Schools, the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA, followed by the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, from which Will graduated in 1990. Will has held many creative-based jobs such as the design, installation and maintenance of Japanese Gardens in New England. He has an avid interest in architecture and design and is currently working as a Graphic Designer.






Jay King -- Cover Art, polymer clay golem - “ADHD (Subject finds it increasingly difficult to focus on daily tasks)"

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