Being neurodiverse is like being a single oak tree next to a great forest of pine trees.
To live in the midst of the pine forest and attempt to behave as an evergreen all year round would be futile. The conditions are wrong for an oak. Being forever among the pines would be life-limiting and stifling, as roots fight for water, and branches fight for space and light.
But to live alongside rather than in the midst of the pines, to be a true oak; to rest after each long summer and to follow the natural patterns which are built within each living thing allows for stronger, more reliable and natural growth. It creates the perfect conditions for stability and better potential to succeed.
Being deciduous is not a weakness, it is a way of being, of growing, of recharging. It is not a developmental fault. You cannot grow leaves in winter if you were not meant to grow leaves in winter. You can glue leaves to a winter tree but you cannot stop them changing colour in Autumn. You cannot thrive if imitation is forced
Let us stand alone. Let us rest. Let us be what we are. That is how we can keep coming back, oak trees seem to whisper in winter. And many autistic people will relate to this. We thrive on doing what comes naturally and instinctively. We do not insult you by behaving differently. We are merely surviving. (Thriving if we’re really in the right place)
Your fun thrills you and my peace thrills me.
While you are a rave on a farm, I am a picnic by the river.
While you are a rockstar on the dancefloor of a club on a Saturday night, I am a rockstar in the shower on a Monday morning.
While you are a whirlwind trip to a busy city with traffic smells and noises and bustling crowds, I am bicycle ride close to home with space and freedom and safety.
While you are shout-chatting above thumping music as the bass smacks you in chest, I am watching bees build nests as bluetits tsee-tsee in the trees, and the wind audibly shakes delicate leaves.
While you are feeling the excitement of pushing your body through white water, or high speeds or the thrill of chasing up and down great heights, I am feeling the thrill of catching a clear photograph, of seeing my first baby adder, of holding hands in friendship across a bunch of social networks and finding my tribe, my solidarity, my peace.
I am an oak.
Your forest is grand. I watch it from a little way down the slope and admire it. I know it better than you think and love it better than you’ll know. But I am not of that forest.
I am an oak. Let us stand alone. Let us rest. Let us be what we are. That is how we can keep coming back,
We are both trees. And we are both rockstars.