I am a palm tree in Scandinavia …

A drawn palm tree in front of a picture of a snowy forest, with the texts "I am a palm tree in Scandinavia" "I am parlm tree" "actually autistic"Or a polar bear in the Mediterranean region.

A while ago I found that comparison to explain the life of neurodivergent people in a world built by and for neurotypical people:

Imagine a palm tree. In its natural environment, it’s in good health – except in cases of ilness or parasites.
Now, plant it in the ground in a Scandinavian forest.
As far as I know, it will have a lot more difficulties to survive, and it might even not make it at all.

Another comparison: move a polar bear to the Mediterranean region. He’s not going to like it at all.

The difference between a palm tree and neurodivergent people is that everyone (or almost?) will not get upset against the palm tree and tell it it could try harder.
We understand it’s not supposed to live there.

It’s true that there is a lack of knowledge and understanding about neurodivergence, unlike about palm trees, but even when people know, we still hear “yes, but still, you could try harder. We manage.”

Maybe you are a type of tree that struggles to live in Scandinavia, but it seems you manage rather well despite the difficulties.
As for us, we are palm trees. Palm trees so resistant and which make so much effort that you barely see our difficulties. We can’ do better, or more.

If we want a palm tree to survive in Scandinavia, it needs to be in a greenhouse, and that’s not what I wish for us.
But unfortunately that’s what ends up happening, either imposed by our environment (hospitalisation, “protected environment”…), or created by ourselves to protect ourselves – semi-reclusive life, social life extremely reduced etc.

Unlike Scandinavian forests which can’t adapt themselves to palm trees, although we unfortunately seem to be getting there, our society can become, at least a bit more, accessible for all.
Autistic people* have been talking about it for years and have a lot of suggestions of things to do, we only have to listen. And act together**.

#I AmPalmTree (and I don’t specially like palm trees)

* and neurodivergent people as a whole, disabled people, chronically ill people…

** and it’s the same about preventing palm trees from being able to grow in Scandinavia: there are things to do, at an individual level and a collective level, and it’s past time we get started. All of us, I mean. For real.

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