• Adriana Ragland

Beautiful Minds: Uncovering Neurodiversity in WNY

Meet Sue!

She's autistic with ADHD. She also lives with anxiety and OCD. Sue flew under the radar for many years, not receiving her ADHD diagnosis until she was 25 and her autism diagnosis at age 31. She's "always been a little different." She see's the world through a unique set of lenses and has always appreciated the simple things. Sue explained that she has a "zest for life and an unwavering youthful vibe" about her. She also "has never been one to follow the crowd and would much rather swim in the opposite direction!"

To Sue, Neurodiversity acceptance means: "being accepting and inclusive of others who have a different operating system than that of the general population. We, as human beings, are ALL pieces of the puzzle that is humanity"

During our interview Sue unraveled some common misconceptions about her:

"A lot of people have this idea that being autistic means that one has no empathy or doesn't care for socialization. Well, both of these notions couldn't be further from the truth in my case! I've always been a social butterfly. I've never really known any "strangers." Perfect example: When I was around 9 I was on a kick where I'd ask anyone in passing their shoe size. I had no reservations. I also have LOTS of empathy. I love people, and I have three jobs in human services to prove it 😉. I enjoy using my own experiences to help others in the developmentally disabled and mental health communities"

Let's explore some of Sue's hobbies and Interests:

Sue's been obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog since she first played the game in 1992 at age 9, on a trip to Vero Beach, Florida. Often teased because of this, especially in middle school, She didn't let the opinions of others sway her. She's a die-hard Sonic fan and always will be!

She's also "a huge Android geek"! She first learned of it when she got her first Android phone, which was THE first Android device: the Google G1, in 2009. She was astonished by just how much a gadget that was small enough to fit in the palm of your hand was capable of! She heard of something called rooting, and the rest was history. Rooting a device means to exploit the developer permissions so that you can flash custom ROMs, which are modified versions of the Android operating system. Rooting allows you to do so much with your device to customize it. It's a lot of fun! She loves problem solving, and whenever She runs into any issues with flashing or getting files to work, She loves the feeling of accomplishment that washes over her when she figures it out!

Sue has a gift for figuring out how just about any gadget works by "taking it into her own hands, offering a listening ear to anyone who may need it, solving problems, analyzing behavior and formulating strategies to work around maladaptive behaviors, patience, and making others feel comfortable being themselves".

Here's what Sue would like parents and caregivers, teachers, therapists, and medical professionals to know:

"Neurodivergent people have much to offer the world. We think outside the box and tackle problems from various angles. We notice little things that the neurotypical person may gloss over. Just give us a chance to shine!"

Also, "Autism and other neurodivergences look different for everyone. Don't assume that just because I look you in the eye and can have a conversation with you that means I'm neurotypical. We come in many forms! "

How can others improve to help you be the person you’re meant to be?

"Support me and embrace my strengths, all while working alongside me to help me overcome any hurdles life has put in my path. Accept me for who I am."

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