Neurodiversity and the Coronavirus
A Message From Different Brains Founder Hackie Reitman, M.D.
I hope everyone reading this is staying safe and healthy. The entire team here at Different Brains is working from home and following the CDC guidelines. Our mentorship trainee program is also continuing remotely, and we are adjusting to make the best our new normal routines in this temporary Coronavirus era.
We are determined to take this bad break and turn it into something positive for our neurodivergent team and for the individuals and families we serve.
We are dedicated to continuing to release our positive content during this time, because while all of our lives are changing, the tips and tools we highlight aren’t. Now more than ever, we need to take care of ourselves, and must be understanding of and accommodating to the differences in our brains.
So, we hope that while you’re home practicing social distancing that you continue to enjoy our videos, podcasts, and articles – and keep an eye out as we start to explore the world of new style webinars! Below we are including some insightful pieces from around the web that may also be helpful. We will keep this page updated – so check back. And if you know of any articles that are good additions please send them to email@example.com.
Society needs to understand and embrace Neurodiversity for the benefit of ALL of us. Especially in times like these. Wishing you and yours safety, good health, and positive stability through this coronavirus chapter of our neurodiverse lives.
-Hackie Reitman, M.D.
President and Founder, Different Brains Inc.
Neurodiversity & Coronavirus Resources
- Everyone looking for basic information about the coronavirus COVID-19 should start at the Center for Disease Control’s page on the pandemic.
- Take a look at our previous post covering some basic tips for keeping loved ones on the autism spectrum safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
- University of Miami / Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (UM NSU CARD) has created a social narrative guide for talking about COVID-19.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has dedicated this page to information regarding the virus, and has created the NAMI HelpLine Coronavirus Information and Resources Guide.
- Ten Percent Happier has released a special podcast episode on “How to Handle Coronavirus Anxiety”
- Alz.org has published a helpful guide for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers.
- The National Down Syndrome Society has created a helpful fact sheet regarding Down syndrome and the coronavirus.
- Empowering Ability has created a resource page for families with members that have developmental differences, and has a free weekly conference call.
- Autistic & Unapologetic has published a guide to helping those on the spectrum during the pandemic. Also take a look at this previous article on navigating changes in routine.
- Our friend Brooke Schnittman, MA, ACC, BCC, – ADHD and Executive Functioning Coach – is offering regular free online groups for adults with ADHD and parents. For more info visit her Facebook page or email her at: Brooke@coachingwithbrooke.com
- The Down Syndrome Center of Western Pennsylvania Podcast has released an episode dedicated to exploring if the Down syndrome community is at an elevated risk of COVID-19.
- Yulika Forman, PhD, LMHC of The Expert Ally has put together an article for tips on surviving school closings for parents with kids that have autism, ADHD, and anxiety.
- Broward College has created the below graphic covering some basic coronavirus prevention procedures:
Different Brains® Inc. founder Harold “Hackie” Reitman, M.D. is an author, filmmaker, retired orthopedic surgeon, former professional heavyweight boxer, the past chairman and president (and current board member) of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, and a neurodiversity advocate. However, it was his role as a father that led to the creation of the DifferentBrains.org website.
Hackie’s daughter Rebecca grew up with epilepsy, 23 vascular brains tumors, and underwent 2 brain surgeries before the age of 5. Her struggles and recovery put him on the road to, through 26 professional heavyweight boxing matches, raising money for children’s charities (to which he donated every fight purse).
Rebecca eventually went on to graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in Discrete Mathematics, and Dr. Reitman wrote and produced a film based on her experiences there (The Square Root of 2, starring Darby Stanchfield of ABC’s Scandal). After graduation, Rebecca received a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Hackie, shocked at his own ignorance of the topic despite being an M.D., embarked on years of research that culminated with his book Aspertools: The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity (released by HCI books, publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series).
This experience revealed to Hackie the interconnectedness of the conditions that fall under the neurodiversity umbrella, while alerting him to the in-fighting and fractured relations that often plague the organizations tasked with serving the community. Convinced that overcoming these schisms could help all of society, Hackie forged the Different Brains philosophy of inclusive advocacy: “Supporting Neurodiversity – From Autism to Alzheimer’s and All Brains In Between”.
In the company’s initial years of operation, Hackie self-financed all of the content on DifferentBrains.org, all of which offered free to view to the public. Currently he is the host of our weekly interview show Exploring Different Brains, writes blogs for the site, and tours the country speaking at conferences, conventions and private functions, all with the goal of improving the lives of neurodiverse individuals and their families, and maximizing the potential of those with different brains. Separate from Different Brains, Hackie is the founder and CEO of PCE Media, a media production company focusing on reality based content. He recently co-executive produced the documentary “Foreman”, the definitive feature documentary on legendary boxer and pitchman George Foreman.