A playful lesson in neurodiversity

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Ricochet. He lived in a land of innocent excitement and wonder. He jumped and ran, bounced and swung his way through the fields and forests.

But then one day, an ogre came through the village and left nothing but straight lines and narrow paths in shades of grey behind him. The color and life was gone. The meandering paths and peaks and valleys Ricochet loved to explore were no more. There were only strait and narrow paths in the land now, and struct rules to follow the path in an orderly fashion and never to question the ogre’s rules. The boy found it impossible to stay on these new paths and follow these strict rules. He needed to bounce around. He needed to meander. He needed to move free. He must. He MUST. He must be true to himself.

One day Ricochet met Fairy Godmother. (She snuck in from a land where color and life and individuality were still celebrated.) The boy asked, “Why must we follow these straight lines Fairy Godmother. Why can’t we go to and fro in our own way? Why can’t I take my own path and get to my destination in a way that’s right for me?”

Fairy Godmother was stumped. She saw people in other lands making their journeys in all sorts of ways, but she also saw that it wasn’t permitted here. 

The more she got to know and love the boy, his energy, and his different way of looking at the world, the more she realized that the village needed to work for him too. She knew that color, energy, diversity and a freedom to be yourself had to be restored. And not just for the good of the boy, but for the good of all the village people. 

She met with the ogre and pleaded for him to add curves and alternate paths and to allow the village people to wander as they choose. But the ogre just couldn’t envision a land so different from what he was used to. He couldn’t imagine that different could be good. He couldn’t visualize it working. 

So Fairy Godmother granted him a magical gift. Until the sun set the next day, the ogre could walk through the land in Ricochet’s shoes. He saw the world through Ricochet’s lens. He found joy in taking the path less traveled. In wandering off the path. In bouncing and feeling free. The ogre felt a joy he had never known. 

And, finally, he made a new decree that the village return to the colorful, meandering land it once was, and removed all the rules that stipulated how to travel through it.

And Ricochet — and all of the townspeople — lived happily ever after, being free to be exactly who they are.