The Neurodiverse City Project  

Improving social outcomes for the disabled by promoting empathy for the people behind the label 

 

A grassroots effort bringing together

 self-advocates, advocates, educators, researchers, artists, technicians, NGOs, business and government

Receive periodic updates on our progress by joining this Linkedin group 

 

FACT  

One billion people worldwide experience some form of disability

    Disabled Americans are the "largest minority" 56 million or nearly 1 in 5 people (US Census Bureau)

The disabled "  are more likely to experience ... less education, worse health... less employment, and higher poverty rate"

 

Maria Shriver is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer and a best-selling author.

"Nearly half of our country continues to hold onto outdated views laced with fear and misunderstanding."

"... more than half of Americans who do know someone with intellectual disability, who have had a personal experience, can show us the way.  They report progressive attitudes and high levels of empathy when it comes to educating people with intellectual disabilities, when it comes to where they should work, and whom they should marry and date. They are more likely to understand the hurtful implications the R-word (retard) has on this community, their family members and their supporters."

 

 

Most societies stereotype people with obvious physical challenges.  Societies also dehumanize those with "invisible" physical, emotional or intellectual challenges.  But such attitudes have social implications (isolation, denigration, discrimination) that cause untold suffering for our own families, friends and associates.

Although the ADA changed the way Americans act in the business place it has not met the same success in changing the way people think.  Social discrimination is rooted in language, attitudes and social customs passed down generationally and will be our legacy we leave our children

"Fighting discrimination requires a multilevel approach involving education of health professionals and public information campaigns to educate and inform the community about neurological disorders in order to avoid common myths and promote positive attitudes."                        WHO; Public health principles and neurological disorders


 
 
 
 

Neurodiverse City will improve social outcomes for the disabled by promoting empathy for the people behind the label 

  • Students will engage in a curriculum addressing social-emotional development. They will learn about disability, meet handicapped people and participate in community outreach projects.

Why focus on school children instead of adults?  It’s easier and a lot quicker than trying to change the adult world. Middle school students are receptive to new ideas. They are mature enough to develop empathy but have not yet assimilated the hand-me-down biases of their parents’ generation

 

  • Students will read these stories of everyday life as told from the perspectives of disabled children. Through reading and discussion, students will learn disability facts and, most importantly, discover that they share similar interests, thoughts, emotions and dreams with disabled peers.

 

  • Students will meet guest speakers as well as participating in community outreach activities.

 

  • Students will visit Neurodiverse City, a Virtual Reality installation which will place them into the virtual ”neighborhoods” where they can meet and experience a typical day with the disabled children they met through their class readings.

The virtual experience involving daily life activities at home, school and play will allow students to recognize how much they share in common with disabled peers.

It will also provide opportunity to observe on how language and social attitudes can often a layer of handicapping to an already challenged life.