By Shawn Smith M.Ed., CCC
Growing up, one of my favourite childhood Christmas movies was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer(Larry Roemer, 1964). I loved it so much I bought the box set in my early 20’s.
I couldn’t identify why I was drawn to this movie until I was diagnosed with ADHD Inattentive Type at age 30. There was a significant shift in my thinking and the reasons became as clear as a Christmas storm with Rudolph guiding the way.
The movie is an accurate reflection of how society treats people they perceive to be different.
Being an underdog myself, I relate to Rudolph’s story in many ways. Although the movie is quite old, the themes are unfortunately still relevant. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a shining example of Neurodiversity.
His story may have a happy ending but his struggle for acceptance is one we need to pay more attention to. We are reminded of Rudolph’s story around the holidays but inclusion is not seasonal, it is an every day issue.
The lack of unconditional love from his parents ultimately drove Rudolph away. He found companionship by connecting with other perceived “misfits” who chose to accept each other as they were. It is hard to understand how someone we barely know can accept us more readily than our family members.
When all we are told is what we are doing wrong, how could we every do anything right?
The distinction between parental love and disapproval are especially difficult for a neurodiverse child to make. Particularly when they perceive to experience more disapproval than love.
The need to be liked and loved is sought in other places from different people. In Rudolph’s case, he made friends who had a positive impact but this is not always the case in real life.
“We may be different from the rest
Who decides the test
Of what really is best?”
We’re A Couple Of Misfits by J. Marks – Songwriter