I struggled most of my life with night terrors. Frustrated and in a constantly declining state of health, I was put on Ritalin to help me manage my problem. The theory was that if I managed my day stress and focus, my nights would occur more naturally. The concept worked, but only for a short term. During the time I was on the medications, I worked doubly hard to engage in therapies, exercise, and relaxations techniques to replace my bad habits with healthy ones. My three year dedication to health and wellness paid off, so I no longer experience night terrors.
The downside is that I also no longer dream. I know you can’t help it, Phoenix. Sometimes you need to shake my world, and sometimes you just need to rest. The years of vivid dreams have been replaced only with lucid dreaming, and only when I am just beginning to fall asleep. I am aware I am dreaming and can still sense the room. It is just a way for my imagination to run loose. Every time I have this type of dreaming, it is the same place – a village that is filled with innovations that fuel my idea machine. Well, some innovations. Some of it is just strange.
While you are sleeping, I always start in this house. There is no colour in this land and people do not have faces. My dream begins with me descending the stairs into a kitchen filled with children playing. As I round the corner, I come upon a music room where children of all ages are teaching each other music, and dance, and playing board games. Out through the door to the carport I go where 2 kids are playing hockey with violin bows, and one boy is programming a robot to chase his sister.
As I walk through town I see an amazing sensory friendly town. The cars and trains are electric, and the sidewalks are wide. There is plenty of room for bicycles and wheelchairs, and clearly marked crossings. All of the shops have quiet hours where they reduce their operating noises by 70%. Noise cancelling headphone stations are available for customers who need to sit in a controlled environment, and all the restaurants have non-verbal ordering capabilities with picture menus and walk through ordering on tablets. Sensory friendly options are always part of my town. Shops with strong odors or bright lights are kind enough to hang warnings on the door using a symbol system agreed by my town association – a red snowflake.
The local library is as much a community learning center as it is a book depository. In a building inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian homes, the outside edges are encased in glass windows with meeting nooks. The books are kept in the center of the library with small, quiet study spaces tucked in. Lighting is all LED can be controlled in every way including brightness, colour, and hue. Desks are adjustable height and both padded and wood chairs are available. Soundproof internet stations allow for students to engage in online learning, and a larger room for up to 30 students allows for music practice space, study groups, or traveling seminars.
The college is a series of dymaxion buildings, based on the dymaxion homes of Buckminster Fuller. Each building holds a different class, and is a fully equipped smart building where instructors can teach from anywhere in the world. Students can travel from building to building where they can meet their degree requirements free of charge. With no cafeteria, food trucks would be free to park in the gravel lot provided for them so students could select what they want to eat each day. Students can eat outdoors, in the classrooms, or in the town common space – a large, convertible indoor space for everything from music concerts to conferences.
Playgrounds for children and adults are provided. Climbing, swinging, walking, and spinning is something we enjoy at all ages. Instead of over-building sports facilities all over town that have single uses, my town has indoor and outdoor spaces that can be used for multiple municipal, local, and professional sports. Why build a state of the art basketball court that is used only a few days a week, while kids only get to play in broken, poorly funded public facilities?
People live in apartments or in tiny houses, all smart equipped. Imagine a home with an operating system to help people like me with executive functioning. My tiny house comes with Google home, and is programmed with a special assistance package that is programmed to understand my unique cognitive and physical needs. My home reminds me when it is time to take medications, or when I should start dinner. Synced with wearable technology, my home learns my habits and routines so it can better assist me with day to day decisions. If I think I need 30 minutes to get ready to leave, but my home has tracked my showering habits and notices I need an hour, my schedule is adjusted to make sure I am still ready in time. My home teaches me how to prepare meals, helps me select appropriate clothing for my business meetings, and even prompts me to engage in social activities.
For residents who need full time care, they would each have their own tiny smart home, and live in care communities. Their caretaker would live in their own tiny home, provided free of charge as part of their employment benefits package. This way caretakers get their own affordable space, allowing them to better focus on their work with the people they care for. Since all of their patients live in tiny smart homes, they would be able to check in on any patient 24/7 cutting down on household accidents and travel time.
Nearly every week, I walk through my village as I work through my sleep program. It calms me, and inspires me, to build my village in my mind. A place that is so friendly to people with disabilities, that we can lead healthy, happy, and independent lives, no longer facing day to day corrections to adapt to a world that constantly works to exclude us.
So, Phoenix, maybe your night time excitement led me down a path that took away night time dreaming, but that is ok. You compose music in keys never heard. You feel the amazing energy of all beings and made me soak in it. You paint my world in new colours and that is why I get to live and create that which others must fall asleep to see.
Your Neurological Roommate,
Laura (aka Snamuh)