The Inspiration Behind All Brains Belong VT

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Mom and preschooler smiling in nature. Mom is wearing a sunhat, child is wearing a blue shirt
Dr. Houser and her greatest teacher & inspiration

All Brains Belong VT is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization located in Montpelier, Vermont. We use principles of inclusive design to offer healthcare and community connection.

We all have different brains. We think, learn, play, communicate, and experience the world differently. It makes no sense for society to set “default” ways to do things. People should have the freedom to choose what works best for their brains.

All Brains Belong was started during the COVID pandemic. Vermont family physician Melissa Houser, M.D. was caring for sick patients in the hospital, while also homeschooling her neurodivergent preschooler. She fell in love with her child’s brain. She created Youtube videos for her child about how the world works. There is no one “right” way to do things. Dr. Houser taught her child that “some brains do x, some brains do y.” She also started teaching all kids about neurodiversity at well child visits.

Dr. Houser had spent the past decade watching her patients’ physical and mental health suffer. Why? They lived in a world that did not work for their brains. Healthcare, business, schools, and most other things are designed for only certain brains. Any time there is a “default,” everyone else is an “other.” Many people are forced to hide or change their true selves in order to survive. Many people feel broken and shamed because they are told that they “should” be able to do things the “default” way. Nobody talks about neurodiversity.

She then decided that the only way to change the world was to start a community conversation. Inclusion must begin in preschool.

What if all preschoolers were taught about neurodiversity? What if everyone was taught that there are different ways to think, learn, play and communicate? What if all activities, spaces, healthcare visits, and classrooms had multiple ways to participate? What if everyone grew up feeling safe and free to be their true selves?

This is what All Brains Belong VT does. We allow you to do All The Things. We give you a menu of our ideas. We listen to your ideas. We give you freedom to choose what works best for your brain.

People are expected to self-advocate for their own accommodations (i.e., adjustments to an inaccessible environment). This not only puts undue stress on the person. This also excludes the people who don’t realize that accommodations could help them. Inclusive design benefits everyone.

It is time for a new world. It is time for a world where everyone knows that their brains belong. Because All Brains Belong.

ring around rosie
What if kids grew up knowing that there’s no “right” way to do things?

Are you with us?

ABB VT Volunteer Vision for Inclusion 10.6.21
Community Vision for Inclusion Jamboard”: ABB-VT Community Focus Group, October 2021