Living in a Neurodiverse World

What do Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Greta Thunberg all have in common? Aside from having a profound impact on the world, they all identify as neurodivergent.

The brains of people who are neurodivergent work differently. They may learn and behave differently, or they may process information in a different way.

This week, the WA Youth Theatre Company performed the original production of ARCO for our Years 5 and 6 students.

ARCO is Adam Kelly’s award-winning show about living with Autism. The performance takes a heartfelt look at the life and struggles of Adam, an autistic gentleman, trying to make connections with the people and the world around him. 

Adam reminded us that we are all “perfect just the way we are, even on the tough days”. He shared his story and vulnerabilities, sensitively reminding us that there are times when we all feel lonely and “it’s kind of sucky”. The performance was interactive, fun, engaging and heartfelt but most of all it gave us the opportunity to consider life from a neurodiverse person’s perspective.

Below, our Years 5 and 6 students share their thoughts about the show.

When I watched Adam’s performance it made me realise that not everyone’s brain works the same. Even people like Adam who have autism feel emotions like rejection and loneliness. Even though they don’t fit the mould of what we call a normal person, and their brain is wired differently from ours, they still can feel the same emotions as us, they just express them differently. Adam demonstrated that sometimes he has difficulties expressing his emotions or feelings towards things. He stomped his feet and started shaking his head with anger and sadness. I found Adam’s presentation very interesting and exciting, and I am very grateful that I got to watch him perform. Makenzie Brown, Year 6

I liked how ARCO was positive and how we should love who we are, so it gave us a good message. It was also funny, so we all got to have a laugh and have a fun time. Katy Prior, Year 6

I really liked the performance, because Adam described what it felt like and did activities with us, which made the performance interactive. He was very entertaining and funny too. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Eloise Naysmith, Year 6

In the words of Adam, Awesome Sauce!

ARCO is written by Adam Kelly and James Berlyn. Directed by James Berlyn. Performed by Adam Kelly. Animated by Ben Hollingsworth with Arts Mentorship by Joanna Keyser. Sound design by Tristen Parr. Lighting design: Pete Young

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