Diversity is Our Greatest Strength

I walked the campus this weekend with Farmer Glenn, deep into the woods and across the open fields, surveying the campus from the ground to the treetops. We were accessing the biodiversity of the campus, which you know from a previous blog here is a sign of the campus’ biological health. We both joined iNaturalist to map and identify the animals and plants on the campus. Click on this https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=41.33619789999999&nelng=-73.83279729999998&place_id=any&swlat=41.2893192&swlng=-73.88297069999999 to see Mohegan Lake on iNatualist; most of the observations there are ours, and you can follow how things are going on the campus, healthwise, in real time. All the photographs in this blog are photographs we took this week on the campus.

I am deeply impressed with how this campus has balanced itself with birds, mammals, insects, amphibians and plants creating a healthy balance in an ecosystem that is welcoming to us, the humans, who are coming into it. If we were to take any element out, for instance, if we were to spray pesticides or herbicides to get rid of bugs or plants we don’t favor, we would unbalance the world of this campus, and we would all suffer the unforeseen consequences of our actions.

As I was kneeling in the woods at Shrub Oak watching an Oven Bird pretend to be injured to draw us away from her nest, I thought about how this campus gives us the model for how to act in our society. For too long we have excluded citizens with neurodevelopmental disorders from relating and communicating with the center of the society. We have marginalized them, down-playing their incredible talents, telling their families that they would never achieve real independence, and that the families should drop their expectations. In doing that, we have hurt the society, as the society functions best when everyone is included. Neurodiversity, like biodiversity, makes the society healthy, vibrant and strong. It is our mission at Shrub Oak International School to bring the real strengths of the autistic community, and the community of persons with developmental challenges, to the aide of the neurotypical community. The variety and vibrance of a diverse community benefits everyone, and gives me hope for the balanced world we can make for our children.