[mla-nynj] Sharing a story of mine on Neurodiversity- will you share your story?

Jewell, Sarah jewells at nychhc.org
Mon Sep 28 21:59:12 UTC 2020


Please forgive the persistent emails related to the chapter meeting, but in an effort to inspire you all to share your stories of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, here is an example of my own personal story related to Neurodiversity. I am lucky to have had my life touched by many neuro-atypical individuals, and this is the story of my friendship with one woman.

Linda is a friend of mine, but sometimes I think of her as a sister. She's a blond woman about my age whom I met in a creative writing group. She actually looks similar enough to me that I imagine some might think we were sisters. She is also very outgoing and upfront about having Asperger's. While this might be off-putting to some people, for me, this actually caused me to have more friendly feelings towards her initially, because I grew up with a disabled sister.
My mother was going to have twins, but she had a placental disorder, twin-twin transfusion syndrome, that resulted in one stillborn sister (her name happened to be Linda) and Mary, who was born with a large amount of brain damage, which left her severely disabled. In 2006, Mary died at age 19, as her health had been declining and she only had a life expectancy of about 20 years of age due to all her medical issues.
So when I look at Linda, despite the challenges she faces, I see a woman with opportunities my twin sisters never had. Linda has a steady job as a receptionist for a government office, and a loving husband named David. She is an avid creative writer and has finished a writing a young adult novel full of drama, and she has also self-published a poetry chapbook. I'm proud to have given her feedback on her novel, and also to have encouraged her writing over the years by critiquing her poetry in supportive workshops. We've also just hung out as friends many times, a couple of times with her cooking dinner for me at her home.
That's not to say I have always been a perfect friend. At times, I have found myself groaning when I see she is calling, because sometimes it can take patience to talk with her. I had a particularly hard time during the pandemic in trying to help her access Zoom on her computer. Another friend of ours was eventually able to help her figure out her computer setup and had her write down step-by-step instructions so she could join writing workshops that have moved online.
            She is currently going back to school to earn her Bachelor's degree in English (she has already earned her Associate's degree). Sometimes she dreams of being a librarian, and she has worked as a paraprofessional in libraries before. In the meantime, I am happy to share my expertise and more importantly, my friendship. I have faith that she can accomplish whatever she dreams up.

--Do you have a story of your own? By no means is my own story polished, but the beauty of the deal is, if you submit your story and it gets selected, you'll get a professional storytelling coach to help you with it!

We have an exciting Storytelling Session planned this year during our Annual Meeting in lieu of our regular research submissions. We will be collecting 5-minute personal stories on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from NY-NJ MLA Chapter members only. Submit the draft of your story (600 words or less) by Sep 30 for consideration (you can submit your story here: https://forms.gle/vXRYdUXW7qrrRrtGA<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__forms.gle_vXRYdUXW7qrrRrtGA&d=DwMFAg&c=lb62iw4YL4RFalcE2hQUQealT9-RXrryqt9KZX2qu2s&r=xtGRNu9NdBF2r1RzzTxGMv1lboI7x0xwdi-buzFbf4g&m=c8mes3rRAWCmwRRld2uX54QCOiY9kYOfSg-PFpSgeuU&s=ELBMaIo_MJp7IuCJiLkdkJj0ax5SrGYqgDvsSkNmJPk&e=>). A few stories (from 3-4 members) will be selected by our judges (Shannon Jones, Beverly Murphy, Brenda Linares, Jerry Perry, and Sarah Jewell) to be shared at our Annual Meeting (each member who is selected will receive a 60 min online coaching session from storyteller and author Margot Leitman).

Thanks,

Sarah T. Jewell, MLIS
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Department Supervising Librarian
(718) 579-4896
jewells at nychhc.org<mailto:jewells at nychhc.org>

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