Here’s a quick challenge for you: What do fingerprints, snowflakes and the human brain have in common?
If you said that each is unique and different, you’d be correct!
No two sets of fingerprints are the same. Each person’s designs (even identical twins) fall into three main categories (with several subcategories) and have variations in them that help us distinguish one person from another. Even though some people’s fingerprints may look similar, there are ways of telling them apart on close inspection.
No two snowflakes are the same. Even though they all fall into one of eight main categories (and 40 subcategories), they end up with some differences when looking at them microscopically due to factors like temperature, humidity, and what they bump into on their way to the ground!
No two human brains are the same. Even though they all have the same parts and functions, our DNA from each parent influences how our brains start out. Over time, our brain actually changes due to the experiences we have!
Since everyone's brain is different, we must all have different ways of learning, remembering, thinking, feeling, etc. What works for me might not work for you -- and what you struggle with, I might not have any trouble with! There is no "correct" brain or "normal" brain, because all brains are different.
"Over the course of years, every person develops a completely individual brain anatomy. With our study we were able to confirm that the structure of people’s brains is very individual. The combination of genetic and non-genetic influences clearly affects not only the functioning of the brain, but also its anatomy."
- Dr. Lutz Jancke, Professor of Psychology at the University of Zurich (Source: https://www.irishnews.com)
The scientific name that explains how our brains are all different is NEURODIVERSITY. The prefix "neuro" refers to the brain & nervous system, while the root word "diversity" means different!
Take 77 seconds to watch the first video entitled, "What is Neurodiversity?" on the left and think about what it is trying to teach you about each of our brains. Write down any questions or disagreements you may have with the video.
Next, spend less than five minutes watching the second video entitled, "We are all different." This video describes one way that someone can be neurodiverse. Cole tells us his main message towards the end of the video when he says that we don't need to try to find a cure for autism (or any neurodiversity). Instead, we all need to embrace our differences and appreciate the gifts and talents that we have, rather than focus on the challenges we deal with. Everyone is different, and that is awesome!
So, how are you "different" from most of the people in your life?
Are there any challenges that you have that you don't think many others have?
Are there any ways that people think you are "weird" because of your differences?
Do you have any gifts or talents that are pretty unique to you?
What have others said to you about your unique abilities?
Some of the differences that you brainstormed above might be due to your genetics (the information passed down from your parents to you when you were born). Some of the differences above may be due to experiences that you've had or the way you've been raised (your environment). But each of these differences make you the person that you were meant to be.