Member Highlight: Dr. Mel Houser of All Brains Belong

May 01 2024

Tell Us about All Brains Belong. 

All Brains Belong is a nonprofit in downtown Montpelier that provides flexible ways to get healthcare and connect with community, while also educating the community on how to become a more welcoming place for all brains. We call it “All Brains Belong” because we believe that no matter how someone’s mind or brain works, they deserve access to high quality medical care, community, education, and employment support. 


How did you get started?

Like many people, the early days of the COVID pandemic made it painfully obvious that I needed to change the way I worked. In 2020, I was caring for sick patients in the hospital while also homeschooling my then-preschooler, and learning a lot about what wasn’t working for all of us. During the process of figuring out how my child’s amazing brain works, I got my own diagnosis and found out at 37 that I am autistic, ADHD, dyspraxic, dyslexic, and dyscalculic. Learning this changed my whole life.

The seed of the idea for All Brains Belong was planted when I learned that the average life expectancy for an autistic person was 36-54 years. It was a HARD STOP. I  knew I had to do something so that my Sweet Little Love (and all the Sweet Little Loves) could grow up in a world where this wasn’t true. For the past decade, I had watched my patients’ physical and mental health suffer because they lived in a world that didn’t work for their brains. They’d been told over and over again that they were the problem and needed to twist themselves to fit into systems that were never made to accommodate them. I had the same experience. We were all made to feel broken, ashamed, and alone. So I wanted to do something that could make a difference for my patients, my child, myself, and the rest of the neurodivergent community. We launched All Brains Belong (ABB) in November 2021.

Over the past 2.5 years, our ABB community has taught me that healthcare is far more than medical care; it is social connection, employment, education, and all the other basic needs that contribute to our well-being. While our medical practice is full right now, we offer free community programming to everyone, whether they’re a patient or not. For kids and teens ages 4 – 17, we have Kids Connections.This is a customized friend-matching program based on similar interests and communication styles, located either locally or anywhere around the world.  For adults, we host Brain Club every Tuesday night and have conversations about navigating everyday “brain life”. For Autistic/ADHD individuals who are experiencing complex health issues and for medical professionals who are caring for them, we have a free online resource we call “Everything is Connected to Everything” that shows the connections between what often seem like unconnected health issues.

While we work directly with our neurodivergent community members, we are also focused on making the world around us more neuroinclusive. In addition to supporting our patients and community program participants to learn about their brains and their access needs, we also provide training for workplaces, healthcare practices, and community organizations about neurodiversity and neuroinclusion. We are working on all sides of the problem to make the world a better place for all brains.  


What does “neuroinclusive” mean?

The term “Neuroinclusive” means that we create space for people to engage however it works for their brains. A neuroinclusive workplace, for example, welcomes different, flexible ways of communicating, thinking, processing, socializing, etc. It’s about recognizing that we all have different brains, and different brains do things differently. It’s about creating environments and cultures where people whose brains work in all kinds of ways can get their needs met and thrive.


Do you have any events coming up in Montpelier for the community?

We do! We’re excited to host our 3rd Annual Community Health Education Fair (CHEF) on the State House Lawn on Saturday, August 24th. We bring together resources, educational discussions, art, music, and social connection. 

While we love how vibrant the many downtown Montpelier events are, feedback from our community members is that many cannot access other large events related to sensory processing, communication differences, anxiety, etc..  What sets CHEF apart is that we offer multiple ways of engaging. For instance, attendees are welcome to visit our “Take a Break Zone” that offers a space away from overwhelming stimuli, ask questions and share information using devices or writing pads, and move their bodies in whatever ways are comfortable.  Our goal is to provide an inclusive setting that takes into account all the different ways people share space, and bring in the people who are too often left out. 

We welcome anyone who would like to attend and any organizations who are interested in sponsoring to find out more at

Photo of Dr Mel with their son, Zachary

share this