COVID Appeal Letter to Premier
NOMADS | United
April 3, 2020
Dear Premier Horgan,
Education, healthcare, and housing. All are within the provincial portfolio and authority. These are also some of the areas of greatest systemic barriers and structural violence experienced by neurodivergents. And who are the neurodivergents? Some of the most sensitive and vulnerable human beings, disparaged and disregarded by society. The medical community has given them labels associated with sickness, or worse. ADHD, autism / Aspergers, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and so on. Pathology and disability, all.
But of course, this is not true. Neurodivergents are broadly diverse. And their neurological traits define their functional differences, not disabilities. This is the heart of the neurodiversity movement. It is a movement towards a more inclusive and caring society … for all people.
I appreciate the rental support for COVID impacted workers, but what of those who could not find work for months or longer due to discrimination? Are they not equally or even more greatly impacted by such dire times? Many have continued desperately in hopes of finding work, even with more education they struggle. In fact, many have not achieved higher education and have not found gainful long term employment despite their best efforts. And with the employment and community centres closed, they have had to stop searching altogether.
Sadly, I have to say that the advanced education and poverty reduction ministries have failed the neurodivergents, largely blinded to their needs and the true solutions to relieve their suffering. What are these desperate souls to do? They are told they are sick by the medical community, but not given the medicine to make them better (i.e. “normal”, or the same as the majority). And if we tell them they are different but not dysfunctional (which most never hear in their lifetime), we provide them with no support to grow and develop into meaning, mastery, and agency – some of the most basic universal needs of learners and human beings.
Many eke out enough to barely survive, living with discrimination and frustration always by their side. They are often the precarious worker or the working poor. Certainly, they vastly over-represent the under and unemployed. And it is here that I feel both great pain, but also a sense of real opportunity. An opportunity to change the world and do the right thing. And that is enough. But even beyond that, I sense a great potential in unleashing the creativity and innovation we could bring to the new economy, an economy that we will create for the benefit of all … for the greater good.
It is vital to understand that most are not trying to game the system or avoid work. Or are undisciplined. Or any other form of demonization. Any more than the rest of society, the neuro majority. We don’t want handouts. We want equal opportunity. Some are disabled, some are not. But all experience discrimination at a systemic level.
Temple Grandin reminds us that we need “all kinds of minds”. And now more than ever, the neurodivergent’s alternative perspective, imagination and ability to see the big picture is needed to address the massive macro shifts that we are experiencing and that will only accelerate moving forward over the next decade in every sphere – technological, environmental, social, healthcare and economic.
The alternative is to continue to ignore this group and they will continue to be the most greatly impacted by society’s narrow model of value and contribution. We will be vastly over-represented in the school dropouts, chronically unemployed, addicted, prisoners, homeless and early deaths. And we will continue to suffer emotionally and psychologically from being degraded and disrespected by authority figures in these broken systems until true, transformative changes are made. This can only happen when we are invited to the process. “Nothing about us, without us”.
Please consider how you can help us as citizens and people today. Financially to survive the interim but include us in policy consultations / making as full partners for all future changes. The only way to serve a diversity of population is to have diverse voices coming together with equal representation. And with a collective of 20% of the population, or 1 in 5, we do represent a significant portion of the citizenship of BC.
May God give you wisdom, compassion, and courage of character during these challenging times and beyond.
Robert M Peacock
NOMADS United (Nu) Founder
Neurodivergent Advocate and Neurodiversity Ambassador