We first became aware of Siena's work when we saw her bio page on the UN's youth envoy page. She was kind enough to catch up with Steph Aldridge - NeuroCyber's unofficial networker in chief - and gave permission for us to share the profile of her we'd spotted! The 18-year old neurodiversity advocate and author is from Ireland and lives in the United Kingdom. She is autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic and has ADHD.
In her interview with the New Scientist she has a pretty succinct description of her point of view:
"I believe that neurological differences, such as autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia, are natural variations in the human brain. Our society pathologises these conditions and focuses on trying to cure them. I am trying to flip the narrative so that society stops viewing us as defective and starts to embrace and harness our many strengths and talents."
She works to raise awareness of neurodiversity and fight against bullying. Anyone who would like to read more on her work can check out her mentoring website, where she shares her ideas and experiences of neurodiversity for children, girls especially, who are navigating their own differences.
Siena is also the bestselling author of “The Spectrum Girl’s Survival Guide: How To Grow Up Awesome and Autistic.” When she found that most books were written for autistic boys and that there were no books aimed at supporting the unique challenges faced by autistic teen girls, Siena decided to change this. In April 2020, she launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to donate a book to every state school for girls in the United Kingdom.
Now that we've given you plenty of reading materials, we're off to think about what NeuroCyber can do to mark Siena's other initiative: neurodiversity celebration week, because it's now only a month away!