Neurodiversity Celebration Week embraces differences


Screenshot by Nitya Kaza

Westford public school’s bulletin for Neurodiversity Celebration Week.

Nitya Kaza, Staff Writer

This month, Westford Public Schools (WPS) participated in Neurodiversity Celebration Week, March 13 to March 19, and schools conducted events such as exploring literature and sharing fun facts about the topic and introducing students to famous neurodiverse people. WA has also participated in Neurodiversity Celebration Week by making the issue known to the students through posters hung in the hallway and talking about it in the morning announcements. Throughout the week from March 13th to March 19th are multiple events that inform and discuss issues and personal stories from people with Neurological differences.

The worldwide initiative Neurodiversity Celebration Week’s (NCW) mission is to challenge the stereotypes about neurological differences and clarify misconceptions about them. Instead of categorizing people with deficits and disorders, they look at them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.

Westford, as a town, also planned some events to celebrate neurodiversity, organized by School Committee secretary Kathryn Clear.

“I’m a mom of ND (Neurodiverse) kids, and what I have come to experience in recent years has really shown me a need to start this conversation,” said Clear. “There has been a lot of talk about diversity in our community in recent years, but the thing about ND is that it is often excluded from this conversation. We also need to change the perception that being neurodiverse is a deficit, in fact, no two brains are alike.”

Last week, the WestfordCAT is writing some features on Neurodiversity Celebration Week, and Westford resident Matty Tricca is releasing a podcast called “Brain Shapes”. This is the first year Neurodiversity Celebration week was introduced to Westford, where there is more of a focus on the traits and characteristics of neurodiverse brains.

“The ultimate goal is for our community to be more aware of what neurodiversity is and to understand people from a place of strengths rather than deficits,” said Clear. “There are many challenges faced on a daily basis by students, work colleagues, and community members who are neurodiverse, and I think it’s time we start identifying and removing those challenges in order for everyone to succeed and have a truly equitable community.”

Neurodiversity can be defined as ‘the diversity of human minds in neurocognitive functioning within our species’ (Dr. Nick Walker). Different people perceive and process information and communicate differently, and in fact, many of the ‘issues’ that neurodiverse people face are related to the places they are put in, which are more designed for the major population. 

Sienna Castellon, the founder of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, is a teenager who has autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. According to her experience, people often look at the challenges of having a neurological difference rather than the talents and strengths of those people, which inspired her to create Neurodiversity Celebration Week. She strongly believes that schools must look beyond what are perceived as ‘limitations’ and see Neurodiverse students’ potential.