I’m Meg Montgomery, 3LPlace’s Clinical Director.
It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to connect with you on behalf of 3LPlace! I might possibly be one of 3L’s biggest fans. Perhaps after reading this you will be as well.
As a longtime colleague and dear friend to 3LPlace’s Founder and CEO, I watched 3LPlace in the works from the very first idea. Deborah Flaschen, a brilliant and tireless developmentalist and advocate for neurodiversity, seemed so hopeful. The idea also seemed like an enormous amount of work and so I quietly watched and followed her thinking for several years, while her ideas grew. As her ideas began to lift off, I began to envision being involved and soon after began actively helping 3LPlace.
My career began in early intervention in the Brookline Public Schools in 1998. I was fresh out of undergrad and determined to make a difference. Autism had always interested me as I felt people could connect more easily, when it was hard, by finding reasons to connect—MEANING. I stayed in that position for a few years before spreading my wings to more regular ed/inclusion settings. Soon after I found myself following the DIR/Floortime path, becoming a clinician and playing for hours in all types of sensory rich environments to support the people I have grown to find more interesting than most. I often say to my friends, “Neurotypicals are boring.” And I really mean it. I found people with autism and related communication and regulation challenges kept me up at night brainstorming, “If I tried this… perhaps...” and so forth.
Creativity and connection have no bounds. Which is why I consider myself fortunate to have found my field of Expressive Arts Therapy and Mental Health Counseling.
As Clinical Director of 3LPlace, I love tapping into all layers of what a place like ours can embody and provide. I coined an expression here, several years back, “Be my/your best self.” It’s what we are all striving to do on a continual basis, members, interns and staff. When we have positive days we pat ourselves on the back for being our best selves. When we have complicated days, we remind ourselves, “This too shall pass,” with the hopeful mantra that a new day arrives, as does the opportunity to continue practicing being your best self. It’s a spectrum and we are all on it.
The individuality and uniqueness of each member at 3LPlace makes me smile every single day at work. Another neurodiverse mantra that we’ve culturally embraced at 3LPlace is “Presume Competence.” I find this to be another important daily reminder that “just because I can’t speak, doesn’t mean I can’t think.” Our members verbal output varies—from pure verbal fluency, to the choppy prosody rich poetical talk that is hallmark to autism—to all sorts of jumbled and compelling verbal and nonverbal inbetweens. We remind ourselves regularly what Dr. Stanley Greenspan preached, “Gestural communication is valid communication,” whether that means following where someone’s eyes go and capitalizing on that moment, to encouraging rating events or activities with thumbs up/down or fingers for a 1-5 scale. When you open up how you embrace communication, you see that it is limitless.
I can’t speak about 3LPlace without also mentioning my incredible colleagues, which includes staff, volunteers, and interns. They help leverage all these possibilities with the utmost respect and compassion. They are kind, smart, brave, and diligent. The level of care given and offered to our members on a daily basis is something I know simply can’t exist at a typical day program—whether it’s the quietly offering a member a space to regroup when they arrive with a little TOO much emotion , or simply giving someone a hand squeeze when they need a body-based method of reconnecting.
We all know it takes a village and that sentiment couldn’t ring more true at 3LPlace. We need our community to offer us opportunities. Do you have a job site that might help us further explore our Work and Career module? Do you know how to crochet or macramé and want to come sit with us for an hour or two and teach us? Do you want to try out our incredible wiki and/or better yet, contribute to it? Do you want to donate more yoga props to our awesome but not awesome enough collection? If any of these ideas resonate with you, or if you have another idea, please come forward. We need you and we celebrate you! Our members are the most welcoming and authentic people you will likely ever meet.