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A World of Our Own - Creating a Neurodivergent Utopia.

A wide angle photo of a lush green field. Above the field are two complete rainbows.
Jasper Peach

Apr 17, 2024

What would a neurodivergent utopia look like? 

Jasper Peach, host of the upcoming Powerd Original show Unmasked, asked guests what it would look like to build a neurodivergent world.

We, the undersigned, warmly welcome you to the world we built during the filming of Unmasked. Each guest contributed a single element that creates welcoming environs for neurodivergent people.

This utopia is better for everyone – not just us. We know what it is to be an afterthought when systems are created and evolve. We won’t be doing that. The access needs we state are not just for convenience, they make our presence possible. It may be surprising just how much is now possible for the broader community now that we can be part of things.

An older woman is on the floor of a lounge room in front of a laptop. Her legs are wide to the side in a splits-like pose.

When you enter the space you don’t have to touch anything. No contaminated door handles will cross your palm, erasing the potential for related intrusive thoughts. Wave your hand in the prescribed spot and the door will open. This is applied to anything which has previously necessitated touch.

The first thing you’ll notice once inside is that there’s no Big Light. That means no humming wires, distorted vision or nausea. Lamps and sconce lighting are all available in dimmable configurations for collective comfort.

In the skip outside that now houses all Big Lights, you'll also find noisy extractor fans. Anything that makes a whirring or humming sound that gets under the skin of folks like us, creating all the rage is now in the bin. Don't worry, everything will be thoughtfully recycled into new solutions for these noisy problems.

Now that you can see your way around without squinting or needing to protect yourself, you'll notice an array of options to sit and lay. Whether you're fatigued or pained from the world outside the sensor activated door, or it's just easier when you can feel grounded, standing or sitting upright are never required here. There's spongy floor spots and cushions in soft corduroy and velvet. Beanbags and couches, daybeds and chaises await in every nook and cranny. We reject the notion of office chair productivity and embrace bending our bodies just like our brains - in ways that feel good.

Magically, all people have power over our individual body temperatures. The need to inform people that it isn't that cold/hot/whatever people are insisting upon will be placed in the bin along with this major source of discomfort. We won't flush hotter than hell when we feel embarrassed or stressed, we won't feel like ice when a stiff breeze comes for us when we're run down. Comfort will be paramount, from the inside out.

A notebook in thick green grass. The notebook is open to a page that has a mandala like design in black and white pen. In the spine of the book is a white flower.

Comfort comes from how we feel physically but also in the ways that we understand each other. No one way of communication is superior here – spoken word isn’t the only way by a long shot. People who are always or sometimes non-verbal will be respected, just as their myriad methods of communication are. The ways we regard each other will be respectful, with nobody using our diagnoses as adjectives. You’ll never hear “I’m so OCD about that” or other harmful statements that minimise our experiences as neurodivergent people.

In our Unmasked utopia, anyone participating in the education system has access to outcomes based schoolwork. Hostile, inaccessible testing do not exist. With a clear array of ways to learn and create, we can demonstrate outcomes that indicate a cohesive and accessible experience.

It almost goes without saying that every school is a neurodivergent inclusive space. I didn't say has a neurodivergent inclusive space. Education is now wholly friendly to the myriad ways our brains express themselves.

Part of this world is the humility we hold and the understanding that we never stop learning, unlearning, relearning and being open to finding new ways. All of us will have access to ways to understand regulation and co-regulation. We don't have to wait for a diagnosis or a pathologised path, to discover ways to find peace and joy. We don't need to have something going on with us that we are told is inconvenient for others, to be supported to learn co-regulation. All of humanity is given the skills to be who we are and learn to be with others in harmonious ways that do not involve suppression or shame.

We all have access to strength-based support when we need it. Thoughts such as "I'm really bad at maths" or "I'm hopeless at keeping my house tidy" won't apply, and will be replaced by new phrases such as "I can be supported to approach this in a way that makes sense to me". This can be applied so broadly that damage across generations will be wiped out as we reframe what needs are.

Self-determination will be each person's right, without question or pause. Respect for self and others will bloom and the systems that place people in a hierarchy will be irrelevant. And lastly - just a small simple thing - neoliberal capitalism will wind up with the big lights. In the bin you'll notice every decision made for us with no consultation, every ounce of misplaced shame and all of the hurt that was ever caused by an ableist world who couldn't see the exquisite glimmers of gold we had to offer.

Wait ‘til you see what we can create now we have this place - you won't believe it took you so long to let us do it.

Jasper Peach for Powerd with Damon Smith, Our Carlson, Themme Fatale, Eden Swan, Antonia Sellbach, Teneille Clerke, Dr Clem Bastow, Dr Polly Bennett, Dr Kaya Wilson, Beau Windon, Anna Spargo-Ryan and Flis Marlowe.