Rudolph, A Shining Example Of Neurodiversity

Rudolph: a Shining Example of Neurodiversity

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.

Rudolph, a Shining Example of Neurodiversity

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.

All Misfit Toys Welcome Here


“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



Author Image

Shawn Smith M.Ed., CCC is the proud founder and CEO of Don’t dis-my-ability consultation services Inc., an innovative, multifaceted company specializing in the emerging field of Neurodiversity located in Fredericton New Brunswick, Canada.

Shawn’s story is unique in that he was diagnosed with ADHD Inattentive Type at age 30. Prior to his diagnosis, Shawn struggled at every level of the public education system. It took Shawn 4 years to complete 3 years of high school, 32 attempts to earn the 18 credits required to graduate including failing grade 10 math 4 times.

Since being diagnosed and taking prescribed medication at age 30, Shawn has experienced a tremendous amount of self-growth in a relatively short period of time and has a unique understanding of his thought process. In 2010 Shawn was accepted to the Master of Education in Counselling Psychology program at the University of New Brunswick on Academic Probation and graduated in 2011 at the top of his class.

Shawn is a self-advocate, entrepreneur, innovator, counsellor and psychotherapist specializing in the emerging field of Neurodiversity. Shawn is a director at large for the Technology in Counselling Chapter of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and a board member of the New Brunswick Career Development Action Group (NBCDAG).

For inquiries regarding keynote and other speaking engagements please contact Shawn directly at

“Don’t dis-my-ability; I may not learn in a conventional manner but this does not mean I cannot learn, only that you have not been able to reach me”. © For more information, visit Shawn’s site: