Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The Full Spectrum household is always on the lookout for experiences and resources that are neither inspiration porn nor negative Nellie-ism. We’ve recently had the pleasure of encountering two such items, and wanted to share them with readers:

It looks like this documentary is showing on most PBS stations on or around the 15th of April (I was able to attend the premier here in Vermont). Students, families and educators who experience learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, executive function challenges and/or ADHD/ADD will see themselves reflected in this documentary in a really beautiful way. So will everybody else! It's just a great piece about persistence and believing in others and ourselves and the amazing results of that magical combination of effort and faith.

The gaze of Burns’ film seems to rest on every individual with equal weight, conferring complete humanity and dignity on each in a way that nicely avoids inspirational clich├ęs. Instead – and  rightly so! – his subject matter is people, learning, together.

Please take a gander. I’ve read and re-read this simple, magnificent message. The really wonderful thing about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's approach is his clear recognition that ALL people have inherent value, as well as the capacity to dream and to realize those dreams. While we do need to meet people where they are, there is much to be said for not imposing a priori limits on what people may achieve for ANY reason.

People with disabilities are so often "tolerated," so often expected to have smaller dreams. The Secretary-General explicitly calls the United Nations (and the world in general) to task for just such attitudes and dares to demand more for people with autism (and, by implication, all people with differences from the "norm"). In his vision, “economic constraints” do not trump empowerment – and different abilities do not preclude fulfilling education and gainful employment. Comprehensive inclusion and acceptance are his mighty watchwords.

I see neurodiversity as one of the big civil rights issues of the new millennium. Ken Burns and the Greenwood School students and faculty, along with Ban Ki-moon, are influential and wise agents of progress in this arena.

Full Spectrum Mama

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