A Key Concept for Neurodiversity: Niche Construction
When I suggest that neurodiverse individuals, such as those with autism or ADHD, might have been labeled gifted in other times and in other cultures, the quick retort is: “Well, we don’t live in other times or cultures. People have to adapt to the culture they’re in right now.” So what does the person who is a round peg have to do to fit into a square hole? Answer: Shave off enough of its wood to fit, uncomfortably, usually, into the square hole. That’s one solution. The other solution is to round off some of the square hole so that the round peg can stay a round peg and still fit in. That’s niche construction. In other words, I’m saying that people with neurodiverse brains can create special niches for themselves where they can be their unique selves. An example would be a person with ADHD in a job that requires novelty, thrills, and creativity. Instead of suffering in a 9 to 5 desk job (an example of poor niche construction), they create a career for themselves that allows them to be who they are. Another example: a person on the autistic spectrum who has keen mathematical skill working as a computer programmer in Silicon Valley, instead of wasting away in a group home somewhere. Niche construction is what animals have done for eons: the bird building a nest, the beaver building a dam. They’re modifying the environment to suit their unique needs. We need to make niche construction a key tool in improving the lives of individuals with autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and other neurological conditions. Yes, there will always be the need to adapt to the way the world is, and there are medications, behavior modification programs, and other adaptational programs that can help accomplish this. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that we can also help neurodiverse individuals be who they are and still fit in.
(Via Neurodiversity – The Book)

Temple Grandin spoke brilliantly on that theme at TED. Check this out:


Good rehearsal yesterday. The new arrangement of the song Borrasca turned out great. After today we will be ready.

Oliver Sacks | The Daily Show | Comedy Central
Oliver Sacks believes musical training should be a part of early education because of music’s huge effect on the brain.

Here he is on the Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Oliver Sacks

How much proof do we need that music education needs to happen in our schools?

Thanks MMC.

Programmed to be interrupted.

The Long Now Blog » We are programmed to be interrupted.
Wired has a great interview with an author named Maggie Jackson who has written a book about the neurobiological basis of attention and how it is affected by all the “lovely distractions” modern society provides. Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age describes three types of attention – orientation, a general sense of awareness, and executive. Her concern is that our modern technological culture is constantly distracting us – and that we like it. Scientific American just ran an article about a study with similar findings:

Results suggested that thinking fast made participants feel more elated, creative and, to a lesser degree, energetic and powerful.

That would seem another good reason for a person to meditate as a way to balance this distraction.

The Moon Reflected on the Water.

A photo from this weekend.

Upaya Blog: Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass,or even in one drop of water.
– Zen Master Eihei Dogen

Continue reading the exchange between Roshi Joan, George Dreyfus, Al Kaszniak, John Dunne, and Evan Thompson regarding attention/awareness in concentrative meditation and receptive meditation.