Culture TED Talks

A beautiful reflection on “normal”

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Faith Jegede would prefer that you not call her normal.

In today’s powerful talk, given at the TED Talent Search London stop, Faith Jegede introduces you to her two brothers — Remy, 22, and Samuel, 16 — who are both autistic and extraordinary.

“Remy’s speechless but he communicates joy in a way that some of the best orators cannot … When he sings songs from our childhood, attempting words that not even I can remember, he reminds me of one thing — how little we know about the mind and how wonderful the unknown must be,” says Jegede. “Samuel has the most impeccable memory — though it is a selective one. He can’t remember if he stole my chocolate bar, but he remembers the year of release for every song on my iPod, conversations we had when he was four and Lady Gaga’s birthday.”

Yes, Jegede says that growing up with her brothers was full of challenges. But in the end she concludes, “When I cast my mind to the things they’ve taught me about individuality and communication and love, I realize these are not things I would want to change with normality.”

It’s a value TED holds dear – that even minds traditionally deemed disordered are full of beauty. For more speakers who express this idea, check out this 2011 playlist, featuring talks ranging from “Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds” to “Joshua Walters: On being just crazy enough.”  Or watch the wonderful talks from the TEDGlobal 2012 session “Misbehaving Beautifully,” all about the amazing things that can happen as a result of misbehaving neurons.