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We need a new school system and neurodiversity

Over the past weeks I had the opportunities to realise how far I have come on my own healing and "feeling whole" journey. By no means was it an easy ride, on the contrary, but it was well worth it! I am sure more is to (over)come and we never know what lies ahead of us. However, there comes a moment in life when clarity (head) and courage (heart) guide us in co-creative collaboration. 

Where would our world be without determined as well as creative visionaries? Richard Branson left school at age 17 with dyslexia. Steve Jobs quit university and spent a lot of his time in his garage. Maybe you or your children have visions or ideas that others feel are too far fetched? Don't give up on them! The world needs new fresh visions and ideas. 

Here I would like to also remind you of a nice exercise especially with your child: replace the word "stubborn" with "determined", replace "bossy" with "leadership skills", replace "daydreamer" with "creative mind" etc. Google pays their employees in special hangout rooms to daydream and come up with creative ideas. 

My past weeks have been busy and I would like to share with you some of my experiences and hope that you will find some inspiration or information.  

A few weeks ago I attended a neurodiversity event at my kids' school. We celebrated "being different" if I can put it like that. I would like to see it as - we simply celebrated being ourselves - with all our challenges as well as our brilliance, our whole beingness!

Neurodiversity is applied to children and people who are diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD/ADD, autism etc. When you have a formal diagnosis you can receive extra support and accommodations in school for learning difficulties. I assume that lots of children never get assessed and somehow still manage to get through the school years. I could probably write a book about it :) At the same time we do have more awareness around it now, which does help many kids on their journey. 

For me neurodiversity is also about how our brains are working differently - and let's face it, everyone's brain works differently and is unique. I don't want to diminish the challenges of anyone who is diagnosed with what medically falls under "neurodiversity" in any way as we are living with it in our family. It is more about pointing out that we might have just started to scratch the surface in neuroscience and neurodiversity. 

Dr Leonard Sax explains in his book "boys adrift" that many kids might be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD although they are just being normal boys for example. If you can't "sit still" as a 5 or 6 year, especially as a boy, you will be sent of for an assessment for ADD/ADHD. Our school system puts more and more pressure on children at a younger age. This is a complete overload for their system - brain, body and emotionally. It would frustrate anyone, not just kids to have to cope with demands that are beyond your age - especially if you do have some learning challenges.

I feel that is one of the biggest problems: suddenly parents and society seem to have expectations of children that are beyond their age! Why do we believe that unless our children leave school with As only and a distinction at university they won't be successful in life? How do we define success? Do we truly believe that we stop learning when we finish university? There is so much time to learn new things, change career, discover new pathways etc. We live in a NEW WORLD! Embrace it! 

We now have jobs like "content creator, youtuber, storyteller (a big Swiss insurance company is looking for them), "global head of well-being" (a big Swiss bank was looking for one) etc.  Let's be very clear: our children need new skills. Pure information in- and output will be done by AI. 

To come back to neurodiversity: The really interesting part though is that if we do a QEEG and measure our brain wave patterns we can discover that certain differences will have an impact on our maths or reading skills or even handwriting as well as for example why we have anger outbursts. It is connected to how the brain works. Truly fascinating! 

If we now know that our brain is unique and processes information differently how can we then assume that all children should be taught in the same way? I truly believe, like quite a big number of other parents, that we need a new school system that offers more individual learning. Every child learns at a different pace. Every child has a different background, different needs and wants, different strengths and weaknesses, different interests and most of all a different brain as well as a different body (for example highly sensitive). I believe that neurodiversity will lead to exploring and creating new school systems for all children because it is needed!

I have spent years searching for the right school for my son. It was quite a journey and luckily he is in a school that offered a lot of what he needed and wanted. The journey however was not an easy one. All the challenges that we had from an early age on seem so far away now, like they had happened in another life time. There are moments when I ask myself: how did we get to where we are now? I guess I just never gave up and I see many many especially mothers putting in the work to support their children but of course also more and more fathers show up equally as involved! 

What I don't know: did other children have the same challenges and they were just not noticed or did they manage to cope better? I do know some of our friends had kids who were similar to my son but then there were many many other kids and I really don't know what their story was. 

Today we are looking at a very mature teenager and I am so proud of my children. They have gone through a lot of challenges, moved continents, homes, divorce, several school changes and much more. I am also proud of myself because a lot of it I had to do alone, especially in the last 5 years.

I am not a goal setter. For me life is more like a cruise ship exploring the world or a balloon flying through the sky and seeing how beautiful our world is. At times it might be windy, a rough sea, cold and that's just part of the journey and we have to weather the storms. After every storm the sun comes out again, warms our skin, the sky is blue, the sea is calm and we can enjoy those simple yet beautiful moments. 

I trust my intuition and sense into what is needed at any moment in time. That allows me to continuously adapt to new situations and maybe I have to "set a new course" so my ship does not hit an ice-berg and sink. In any case I try to have a life boat and life jackets with me in case I do crash into the ice-berg... so as you can see, our life does offer us many opportunities. Where do we learn that in school? 

Had I stuck to what the system demanded of me and my children we would not be where we are now. I had to stand up against outdated systems and for what we as a family but also my children needed in order to thrive and not just survive. It felt like an uphill battle but when we get to the top of the mountain we have an amazing view! 

Let's look at who are some famous neurodivergent people.

Did you know that people like Richard Branson, Steven Spielberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, Jennifer Aniston and many many more famous people faced dyslexia, ADHD or autistic traits? Hugely creative people... In fact everyone is hugely creative in their own ways. Don't believe for a moment that Branson or Zuckerberg are more creative than you are. They just express their own creativity in a different way and maybe you have not even given yourself the space yet to express your own creativity. Job, family, friends, church, volunteering (sounds a bit like ADHD to me) ... all that has been expected of you ... but where are you truly living your own passion and joy rather than the life/box that you allowed others to squeeze you into? 

Every single one of us is unique and has different brain patterns. Why is it then that we want everyone to be the same? Why are we attempting to squeeze every single child into the same (school)box and in that way actually kill their potential for an inspiring, joyful and self-led life.  

We find labels like ADHD, ADD, dyslexia etc. to define children and people when all that happens is that parts of the brain work differently. Hugely creative children and adults believe they are "not good enough" simply because they have certain challenges. Yet often we would not even know that those challenges are present unless the person shares them with us. However for the individual, especially as a child, it can be a long and tough journey through the school years and beyond. They don't seem to "fit" into the box and they don't have to! We can create our own new systems that benefit our children, our future generations and ourselves. 

Every single one of us can contribute towards a new world with new systems that will benefit all

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