As we enter into a dark time full of danger and uncertainty, it seems almost perverse to write an article about Neurodiversity Celebration Week. As I sit down to write, I'm overwhelmed at how quickly life as we’ve always known it has ceased to exist.
Using the word “celebration” at a time when so many people around the world are gravely ill and dying doesn’t seem right or respectful. And so, I thought about postponing the week. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it is in the darkest times that people need the brightest light. Now more than ever is the time to support and embrace one another whatever our differences, which is fundamentally what Neurodiversity Celebration Week is about.
Changing the narrative about neurodiversity
I launched Neurodiversity Celebration Week two years ago to change the narrative about autism and learning differences. Throughout my educational journey, my autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD were seen as obstacles to my academic success and challenges that had to be overcome. They were seen as liabilities by others.
But I saw a different side to them that no one else around me seemed to recognise. I knew in the right environment, and with the right support, these conditions could also be an asset. Our ability to think 'outside the box', our creativity, pattern recognition skills, innovative approaches, and attention to detail, may not be skills that are recognised by our school curriculum or educational system, but these are the skills that have revolutionised the world. They we will continue to make significant contributions to society.
Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a week in which we recognise and celebrate the talents, strengths and accomplishments of the neurodivergent community. It is a week in which neurodivergent children, who may be struggling or failing at school, are empowered by being reminded that they can still have rewarding and successful careers. It is also a week in which stereotypes and misconceptions about autism and learning differences are challenged and changed.
Neurodiversity celebrated around the world!
This year more than 740 schools and over half a million students from around the world, are coming together to celebrate Neurodiversity Celebration Week. There are also over 10 universities, businesses, museums and charities taking part in celebrating the neurodivergent community.
As we unite in solidarity across the world to promote acceptance, inclusion and equality, I am reminded of the best attributes of humanity and comforted by the fact that these hard times could bring out the best in us. It is my deepest hope that this happens so that something positive will have come out of what can only be described as a cataclysmic event.
Ask Siena a question for our Q&A!
Next week - stand by for a giveaway of Siena's new book! We'll be doing a Q&A - What's your question for Siena about her book, The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide?
- “I’ve been bullied at school for most of my life” How Siena’s helping other autistic young people like her
- School can demoralise autistic students, help me celebrate our neurodivsersity!
- We’re the country’s future. We demand our right to a properly funded education!
- It’s NOT your fault: An autistic teen’s comprehensive guide to surviving being bullied
- I chose mental health over a prestigious Sixth-Form, that refused to recognise my autism
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Don’t miss a thing!
- Why I’m using my new global United Nations role to promote neurodiversity and the importance of equality - September 22, 2020
- Celebrating neurodiversity: Now, more than ever, we must support one another, whatever our differences - March 20, 2020
- It’s NOT your fault: An autistic teen’s comprehensive guide to surviving being bullied - November 12, 2019