Empowering Neurodiversity: My Transformative Journey at SNP-REACH
(Stanford Neurodiversity Project - Research, Education, and Advocacy Camp for High Schoolers)
By Yeeun Lee(G12)
Stepping onto Stanford University's campus for the SNP-REACH program was like stepping into a world of possibilities. I remember the day I spilled buckets of tears after watching “Rain Man” and how determined I was to create a world where neurodiverse individuals can radiate with their unique colors. As a high-school advocate for neurodiversity, my time at Stanford was truly transformative. It broadened my perspective and fueled an even greater passion for my vision of a more inclusive world.
SNP-REACH was a remarkable, unforgettable adventure where I was able to explore the intersectionality between neurodiversity and different fields of study such as psychology and law. It reminded me that neurodiversity is another form of diversity that deserves to be embraced and accepted in our society. Learning from professors, researchers, clinicians, and neurodivergent student advocates, I was able to expand my understanding in the realm of neurodiversity. Besides, what struck me most was the human stories behind neurodiversity. The journey of Ms. Dani Bowman, the founder of Danimation, especially deeply touched my heart. Her journey of overcoming challenges, pursuing her passion for art and animation, and using her platform to advocate for inclusivity and recognize the strengths of neurodivergent individuals inspired me and strengthened my belief in the power of embracing diversity and promoting acceptance.
SNP-REACH fortified my commitment as a budding neurodiversity advocate. And at the heart of it exists Dr. Lawrence Fung’s “Strength-based Model.” Like its literal meaning, the model transforms the perceived deficits of neurodivergent conditions into remarkable assets that empower individuals to navigate life more effectively, ultimately enriching society. This paradigm shift left me profoundly impressed, not merely for its extraordinary nature but also for its immense potential to dispel prevailing stereotypes surrounding neurodivergent conditions, compelling people to recognize the positive facets of these conditions.
Divided into groups, we have planned on creating a neurodiversity advocacy project for our schools and communities. Within our team, we were fortunate to include diverse individuals, each with their unique neurodivergent experiences. Among us were students with ADHD, dyslexia, and one on the autism spectrum. Collaborating closely with them, I had the privilege of gaining first hand insight into the very neurodiverse population I've long championed. Through active discussions, we collectively recognized that while our school's curriculum does establish certain policies to accommodate neurodiverse individuals, these provisions often remain superficial, failing to provide the comprehensive support they truly require. With this realization, we embarked on a collective mission.
Our vision took shape in the form of a website, a platform through which we could disseminate awareness-raising posters, designed to foster empathy and understanding toward the perspectives of students with ADHD, dyslexia, and autism. In addition, we crafted lesson plans intended to bridge the gap between the neurodivergent and neurotypical communities. Our aim was to create an environment where people could come together and actively participate in building a supportive community centered around the principles of neurodiversity. You can access the prototype of the website here: https://sites.google.com/view/neurohelper/about.
Looking into the future, my dedication to being a neurodiversity ally remains unwavering. I am determined to undertake further studies in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the university, where I can delve deeper into the scientific aspects of neurodiversity and engage in compelling research alongside like-minded peers. This path excites me, as I aim to make meaningful contributions to our understanding of neurodiversity, develop interventions that enhance the lives of neurodivergent individuals, and work towards a world where neurodiversity is not merely accepted but actively embraced and celebrated.