This piece is part of WestfordCAT’s three-part series on Neurodiversity Celebration Week.
WESTFORD — Neurodiversity Celebration Week has begun — a week-long event and international campaign to celebrate neurodiversity within our community.
Siena Castellon is an internationally recognized autism advocate and the founder of Neurodiversity Celebration Week. The initiative was founded in 2018 in the United Kingdom, but has since spread to over 1,400 schools and accounts for 685,00 students participating.
According to the organization’s website, advocates hope to educate and foster supportive environments for neurodivergent students and adults.
Westford School Committee recently recognized the initiative, hosting a guest speaker and advocate during its March 14 meeting.
Celebrating neurodiversity in Westford
School Committee Secretary Kathryn Clear has led the charge to adopt the initiative within Westford Public Schools.
“I’m a mom of three ND kids and what I have come to experience in recent years has really shown me a need to start this conversation,” she told WestfordCAT. “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.”
She noted that the conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion should be all-encompassing, and should include neurodiverse students and adults.
“DEI is about everyone, including those who are often invisibly diverse,” she said. “We need to start understanding how different brains work in order to see the strengths that all these amazing people have!”
Westford Public Schools SEPAC
Like a number of communities in Massachusetts, Westford has a Special Education Parent Advisory Group to advocate on behalf of neurodiverse students and families.
Westford SEPAC aims to support students and parents through a strong network of parents and children with special needs, advising the Director of Pupil Services and School Committee, as well as promoting programs within the community that encourage understanding, acceptance and inclusion.
The group meets virtually once a month. Neurodiversity Celebration Week runs from March 13 to March 19.