Neurodivergent Solidarity…now with cats!

Listen to this post:

Look at this work of brilliance from Marnie Alban. A drawing in marker by Marnie Alban. Four cats smile and face forward, and there's confetti! Text in green all capital letters reads "Neurodivergent solidarity." A tan cat stands and holds up front paws and wears a shirt with "Soy Neurodivergente." A black cat stands on back paws, shakes its tail, and flaps its front paws and speaks, "Respect the stim." A ginger cat sits in a purple wheelchair and holds a sign with "CLOSE the institutions." A gray cat stands and speaks, "MAD PRIDE!"

Anyone who knows me will understand that a row of smiling cats is gonna draw me in right away. If something could somehow be better than cats to me, it would be this image of solidarity. Which yes, is represented by cats. It’s solidarity where you hold onto your love for and commitment to the group and also for yourself in that group. Coming together for a common cause even though you may be very different people (or cat breeds) is important. It doesn’t mean that we focus only on what we have in common and try to forget about our differences. I don’t find that terribly useful. This image so beautifully captures the differences and how confetti, protest signs, and pride can hold together a community of people across language, race, ethnicity, disability experience, and so much more.

I also want to weigh in on the term “neurodivergent”.  That’s how I identify myself a lot of the time. It’s not common in the brain injury community to use that word. One of the bonuses to it though, is that no one ever asks me how it happened! I can honestly say I’ve never gotten a demand to explain to someone how I became neurodivergent. Publicly state that you had a TBI, and suddenly everyone’s a talk show host and needs to interview you right now to get the details of the wreck and to find out if you have an executive dysfunction or not. So I do like that side benefit of being offered the privacy that I had before I said anything about my head’s contents. But I started using the term because it means I’m aligned with people with lots of cross-disability experiences. It’s really a political and a cultural thing more than it is a specific medical thing, and that’s where my interest is.

I really feel like I’m in solidarity and hope that I’m in solidarity with the Spanish speaking cat, the stimming cat, the cat fighting institutionalization of disabled people, and the mad pride cat. And all the other cats not listed who are not going to show up for hate and exclusion. Thanks, Marnie, and meow.