Saturday, November 17, 2007

Foundations: Brigadoon, the Brigadoon Explorers, and Dreams

The Sojourner entered Second Life (SL) via Brigadoon and BrainTalk in 2004. Brigadoon was a private, online community created and inhabited by people with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and their caregivers. It was a virtual home and fully customizable physical place for a small group of people who were exploring and learning to live in the Second Life environment in hopes of improving their real life communication and social skills.

Funded by Braintalk Communities, Inc., this project assisted AS individuals interact and work with each other in a completely new way since its inception in July 21st, 2004. It recently was taken off line in SL even though its purpose lives on in the Brigadoon Explorers and the individuals in the original Brigadoon Community.

Brigadoon was part of a project devised by John Lester (then of the Neurology Department at Massachusetts General Hospital) to create a community of people interested in Asperger Syndrome. The community consisted of adult individuals with AS and teachers and parents of children with AS. It was a closed environment meaning that the residents could travel through the rest of Second Life but others could not join them in their space, maintaining a safe, comfortable environment. As the community grew and progressed with interests beyond the Brigadoon island, the need for interaction with SL mainland increased.

(Note: The living areas of Second Life include islands and the mainland. Both consist
of sims which are landmasses but there is more seclusion for the island sims.)

When The Sojourner (Soj) started her stroke survivor group (ShockProof), she did so with the assistance of a number of the Brigadoon crew. John Prototype, Coos Yellowknife, Amalthea Blanc, and Rainmaiden Fairplay were essential to the beginnings of what would become Dreams. It didn't take long before Soj realized that the need for a group involving the mainland contingent with AS also needed a home.

The Brigadoon Explorers group was formalized in April, 2006, when Ariel Miranda agreed to host the weekly meetings. Currently, they are held on Wednesday evenings from 5-7 pm Pacific Standard Time. These meetings are often lively discussions of what it means to have AS, social situations, how to deal with work and family, how to support family members with AS, and just discussion in general.

The Brigadoon Explorer Parent/Teacher Group is just forming under the leadership of Dorie Bernstein and Golda Stein, a daughter/mother team not only with family experience but an educational background as well. Tenatively, these meetings will be held on Mondays from noon until 1 pm PST.

Feel free to visit our blog and hear some of our invidual voices at:

If you are interested in the Brigadoon Explorers, please contact Ariel Miranda or The Sojourner in Second Life.

Foundation: BrainTalk and Dreams

written by John Lester with additional information by The Sojourner

Braintalk Communities is a non-profit organization that provides online environments to help people dealing with neurological conditions. The main website ( offers hundreds of forums and chatrooms for self-help support groups focused on a wide range of neurological disorders. Braintalk's mission since 1993 is to create safe and supportive virtual spaces where the general public, patients, and caregivers can share experiences and emotional support. Extending this mission into Second Life, Braintalk created "Brigadoon," a private region and community for supporting people dealing with Asperger's Syndrome. Other ongoing Second Life projects supported by Braintalk include the publically accessible regions "Live2Give" (for people dealing with Cerebral Palsy) and "Dreams" (for Stroke Survivors). If you would like more information about Braintalk, please contact John Prototype/John Lester.


While Brigadoon and Live2Give are no longer functioning projects, they gave rise to a number of projects within Second Life. (The program was a success and members "outgrew" the project and started programs of their own.) One of these projects was Dreams, started by The Sojourner, in Second Life. Dreams encompasses, ShockProof (a group interested in stroke) and the Brigadoon Explorers (the mainland group of individuals interested in Asperger Syndrome and autism).

Foundations: What is Dreams?

Dreams is a community of people residing in Second Life, some of whom are stroke survivors or have Asperger Syndrome/autism.

The Dream Travelers are the main activity force behind Dreams. The group was started in July, 2005 after The Sojourner (Soj) realized that the group needed to be multi-pronged in order to accomplish its goals:
1. To provide a base for creative interaction among people in SL.
2. To provide an area for teaching, holding discussions, and holding events.
3. To give an outlet for the products of the dreams spun on this land.
4. To support the needs of people with stroke, Asperger Syndrome, autism, neurological conditions in general and their families and friends.
5. To provide an environment in which people feel safe to explore their abilities.

Everyone wants to belong, to have a sense of purpose, to have aspirations. However, not everyone dreams the same. Some people need a bit of isolation, others need to play off of each other. Dreams is here to provide that variety. Most of all, it is here to provide support, learning, and fun.

The Dream Travelers as a group have several designations/titles. The Dream Seekers are the main body of the group. The Dream Travelers are active in their participation in assisting others and pursuing their own goals. Dream Spinners teach. Dream Catchers assist in maintaining the safety of the sim. Dream Weavers are the advisory council. Regardless of the role, each person is charged with trying to find a way to take what is in each one of us and to explore it.. turning it inside out and back again... and then to pursue something that we have thought to be beyond us, having a place among friends to do that.