Recreation is Therapeutic

**DISCLAIMER** I’ve written these as if we’re hanging out just having a conversation. It is my opinion based on my experience as a scientist and as a part of our commuity.The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. 

I am not a medical professional and so I have no place giving medical advice. I am an expert on the molecular interactions of cannabinoids and their targets in the brain/body; I make theoretical extrapolations into my own life/cannabis/psychedelics use all the time, but have no formal training in physiology or general pathology outside of molecular mechanism.

I have always believed that there is a huge therapeutic value, specifically for neurodivergent adults, in recreation – so much so that my first non-profit endeavor was building opportunities for recreational music for higher support needs neurodivergent adults.

Eight years ago I attended a small acoustic concert in a living room in Larry Bird’s old house in Chestnut Hill, MA (I remember wondering why there were all these pictures of a huge, tall white guy in this Indian family’s home). Laine had been teaching violin to an extremely talented young autistic musician and two of his friends, one who played guitar, and one who played rhythm tambourine and this was their debut set together. Two other musicians with disabilities opened the show with piano and guitar. The room was filled with energy and by the time Laine’s trio took the stage, it was clearly a very successful party. 

The audience was made up entirely of neurodivergent friends and family. The freedom and openness of behaviors was something I’ve never experienced. I found myself stimming and feeling more comfortable, more myself than I ever had in any public setting. Seeing the trio perform for their friends was engaging; the joy in the room was physically tangible. I had never been so aware of my own emotions in a space.

Laine and I played a small classical music set to close the concert and then a potluck dinner was served. As the night wore on, more and more unique conversations and experiences were had. These were my people. I had found community in a neurodivergent space like never before. We started playing music all together and that was the beginning of my first non-profit: The Music, Unity, and Social Expansion (MUSE) Foundation.

Until now I’ve had a really difficult time even thinking about MUSE, because it was in many ways mine and Laine’s first child. We built the non-profit from scratch by not paying ourselves and working multiple jobs to support its growth. We dedicated the first three years of our marriage to its success. 

And I was devastated by the way it ended for me.

I used to think I’d write about it way down the line and air all the dirty laundry. I used to think I would feel empowered by telling my side, our side, especially because I have a keen memory especially in conflict. But in reality there’s nothing to tell besides what happened. The direction I had worked for years to build was negated, possibly because my disability, possibly because I was the only person of color on the staff, in favor of the strong opinions of two cis-hetero white men. Laine and I, and eventually another core administrative staff, were pushed to leave – all of us queer, neurodivergent adults.

I don’t think anyone needs to hear the dirty details, because sadly it’s such a common occurrence.

But now years later, I look back upon the time that I spent in that community as a huge step in my healing and a giant piece of my understanding of neurodivergent communities and the value of recreation for neurodivergent adults. 

Neurodivergent adults need community support to navigate this complicated society.

We are often not fully independent and need additional types of support, especially emotional support. Feeling seen in a group of peers and knowing that you have a place among friends is critical to living a high quality of life. Humans were meant to be social and neurodivergent adults don’t get as many opportunities for that.

On top of that neurodivergent adults struggle to make and maintain friendships. Or we have atypical friendships that have blurred lines into other categories of relationship, like family. This is made worse by any atypical childhood family experiences. It can be difficult for us to understand our place in society which makes community support more important.

Recreational outlets, including situations that involve substance use for the purpose of recreation like cannabis or psychedelics or alcohol, create opportunities for neurodivergent adults to access different levels of social reward, decreased anxiety, and social bonding. Substances have been a part of our joined social experiences from humanities earliest times, just like music, or often in combination with music. 

As I move into this next chapter with this new non-profit, I am feeling compelled to honor this piece of my history and push for the therapeutic value of recreational outlets.


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