Divergence is everywhere these days. Here is what my favorite dictionary, Mr. Collins has to say about it: “divergence, a noun, the act or result of diverging, the condition of being divergent” “divergent, an adjective, diverging or causing divergence of opinions or interests, thinking in an unusual or unstereotyped way, for example, to generate several possible solutions to a problem” “diverse, having variety … or distinct in kind” These ideas, so well presented in Divergents Magazine, are a welcome and inspiring addition to American life and provide a needed U turn in attitudes toward children and adults who learn differently. I was moved by the stories of trauma experienced by young children, trauma which needlessly throws roadblocks into their education, causing their sense of themselves to become less than rather than interestingly different. American cultural norms have perhaps always been competitive as a result of our leadership in the world but every child is different and when approached with wonder and respect, opens up to curiosity and possibility. Trauma, however, has given us the word traumatic. Perhaps America has never experienced anything as disruptive as what is taking place now across the country and the world. There have been other pandemics and, as upsetting and life-changing as they were, nowadays there are many more people who are feeling the impacts of Covid and its follow-ons: climate disasters, the Me-Too movement, Black Lives Matter and it’s highlighting of systemic racism and its ongoing effects, the disruptive and criminal presidency of Donald Trump, even extinction anxiety. It is appropriate to feel raw fear in response to these realities. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk in his book on trauma, The Body Keeps the Score, demonstrates the insidious effects of trauma on the body. He points out the necessity of naming the fear, facing it first in order to alleviate the worst symptoms. Young children can accept the truth when spoken about from loving parents and teachers. In fact, it motivates them to try to help, to come up with solutions. I expect that we have no realistic ideas of what can happen to young children and our education systems, as well as to the rest of society, if we can acknowledge difference as equally important as whatever we call sameness. I have been in the field of education for many years as a teacher and a psychologist. I have experienced the curiosity, delight in exploration of ideas and places, and ambition to grow older that young children everywhere exhibit when their environment is welcoming and accepting of their individuality. Good enough parents and teachers know that even a very young child who crawls over to his mothers’ feet and tugs on her hem, expects and needs attention. The best learning always has an emotional component. Both hemispheres of the brain are vital to learning but it is the left brain which excites and helps the learning to stick. When parents and teachers can read these signals, the child feels seen and appreciated which leads to more curiosity and the motivation to explore his environment. I feel confident that when education systems stress the positive aspects of children’s individuality, not inappropriate praise, all students will benefit and feel more confident in being their distinct individual selves. I hope that this magazine moves parents and educators of children everywhere to rethink what is possible. Elizabeth Stevenson Jungian Analyst Waitsfield, VermontElizabeth Stevenson: Psychoanalyst
Hello again Ben, Thank you for getting back to me. I’m delighted to hear from you and excited to share some of my work with you for publishing! I have a poem in mind that I think others could relate to, especially those who have experienced a late diagnosis of autism like me. It is quite a powerful piece emotionally. It's about being and feeling misunderstood and feeling "wrong" inside my own body. The differences that make me who I am as a person with what we now know was my autism! Who I was, who I am, being constantly 'washed away' by a person in my life, who didn't take the time to get to understand me. My mother - a person who should have shown unconditional love for me, but just wasn't able to. The desire she had to change every little bit of me, instead of loving my differences. Therefore, causing huge amounts of childhood trauma. Now I am an adult, armed with my diagnosis, I have felt liberated knowing that there wasn't anything "wrong" with me. Now I'm healing, unmasking and accepting myself and I wish she could see me. Do you think this would be a piece I could submit (and how do I go about doing this)? I'm really excited to be getting involved with the work that you're doing to showcase work from the neurodivergent community. Thank you for the opportunity. Sarah Jones writes at 'Actually Asperger's' about her experiences as a woman with autism; neurodivergent topics and poems.Sarah Jones: Sarah writes at 'Actually Asperger's' about her experiences as a woman with autism; neurodivergent topics and poems.
Hey Ben! It sounds like a wonderful project, but I am totally overwhelmed with writing assignments and requests through the spring at least. I'm so sorry -- I wish you the best of luck! Steve"Steve Silberman: Author, NeuroTribes, Author's page
"Hi Ben, Thanks for your note. I like your take on neurodiversity (e.g. use of the term ‘’mutant’’ is good since there are gene mutations involved). As I was reading your note and your magazine, I kept wondering where I fit in. I have a mood disorder – (uni-polar depression) and have had five debilitating episodes of major depression in my life lasting from a month or so to sixteen months. Mood disorders rarely get mentioned in conversations about neurodiversity. Fifty years ago there was a real stigma to having a mood disorder. My father had a mood disorder and didn’t work for 17 years as a result of his disability, and I remember feeling ashamed about it and how I didn’t want anyone to know. I remember when one of my ‘’friends’’ asked me point blank: ‘’Is your dad mentally ill?’’ and I was so ashamed that I denied it and gave other excuses for his not working. But nowadays we’re much more tolerant about people with bipolar or depression. I have no qualms about telling people that I have depression and take four psychoactive medications for it. I think this is for two reasons, one, so many people have it. and two, there’s been a lot of education about it in the news and celebrities often talk about their experiences of it), Anyway, I just felt inspired to share these thoughts."Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.: Author of If Einstein Ran the Schools, Books by Dr. Armstrong
Dude sorry for my late response I’ve been on a 4 month book tour (Normal Sucks) and am traveling in the Middle East until the new year. This mag is super rad and I would be honored to contribute when I get back if it’s not to late Cheers JmJonathan Mooney: Author of "Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines", Mooney's page
Hi Ben. I was offline over the holiday season, but wanted to acknowledge your email. I've just had a quick look at your new project - well done! I am delighted you reached out, and would be proud to be among the "friends" of the magazine. What info/materials would you like me to send along for my listing? Also, after a more fulsome review of the magazine, I'll see if I can share a piece of writing with you to help build the site's offerings. Again, congratulations and all the best for your new venture. Cheers, Zoë Kessler Author, ADHD According to Zoë, New Harbinger Publications www.zoekessler.comZoë Kessler: Author, ADHD According to Zoë, New Harbinger Publications www.zoekessler.com twitter: @ChickADD44,
Hello Ben, Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, I do not write anymore as I am an editor at the Washington Post. But when my book comes out, I will send it to you. Thank you. Sincerely, EricEric Garcia: Author, Covering the Politics of Neurodiversity: And Myself