Meet sixteen year-old Siena Castellon, an award winning autism advocate who considers herself a maths and physics nerd. She is the founder of Quantum Leap Mentoring, a website which aims to raise awareness and offer mentorship to other young autistic people and people with learning differences. She is campaigning for schools to recognise and celebrate the strengths of their pupils with SEN.
“Being a student with special educational needs (SEN) has its challenges. I know, because I am autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic and have ADHD. One of the main challenges is the way autistic students and students with learning differences are perceived. Sadly, there is still a stigma associated with having SEN and there are still many misconceptions about autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. I recently launched my Neurodiversity Celebration Week school campaign in order to change negative perceptions about learning differences and autism.
School can be a demoralising and humiliating experience for SEN students. When we are at school, we are constantly being reminded of what we struggle with and are bad at. I want to change this by flipping the narrative. My campaign aims to encourage schools to recognise and celebrate the many strengths and advantages that come from thinking differently and perceiving the world differently. Our creativity, innovation, problem-solving skills, resourcefulness, insightfulness and resilience.
My hope is that EVERY school in the UK participate in Neurodiversity Celebration Week. Although I just launched the campaign, I already have 15 amazing organisations supporting the campaign, including the ADHD Foundation, Anna Kennedy Online, Ambitious About Autism, Autism Parenting Magazine, the British Dyslexia Association, the Dyspraxia Foundation and the PDA Society. I also have 21 schools signed up to participate, which amounts to almost 20,000 students!
Please join me in changing the way neurodiverse students are perceived by asking your school to sign up to participate in Neurodiversity Celebration Week at: www.neurodiversity.celebration.week.com.”