About the Founder
NeurodiverCity was founded by Serena Chen, a senior at Saint Francis High School, with the vision to eliminate misconceptions, reduce stigma, establish a supportive community of neurodiverse individuals, and embrace neurodiversity.
As a neurodiverse individual, she has endured constant shortcomings and frustration due to late diagnosis from the heavy stigma in her community: at home, at school, and around peers. Many did not believe in neurodiversity, making the path to diagnosis complicated and difficult.
Even after diagnosis, she found herself incredibly alone and confused. Neurodiversity remained an uncomfortable discussion topic, and there was no accessible neurodiverse student group for her to turn to, no support groups or manual for dealing with her struggles; no known student mentors or guides who had gone through similar experiences. She was left to navigate this newfound aspect by herself. Even with an answer, she remained ashamed of her differences and afraid to disclose—expected to mask, but always lacking, yet at the same time, not considered neurodiverse “enough” by others because of the constant pressure to mask. Suffocated by the stigma around neurodiversity, she was forced to clamp down on her differences in fear of ridicule, silently shamed into believing she didn’t deserve to have an identity.
One year later, after reflections upon self-discovery and embracement, atrocious emoji combinations as coping mechanisms, some amazing friends, a cat named Catbalevsky, lots of motivational memes, and the guidance and knowledge imparted by the Stanford Neurodiversity Project’s REACH, Serena has gained the confidence and ability to launch the NeurodiverCity initiative. She recognizes that neurodiversity still exists as a largely stigmatized topic that many don’t feel comfortable freely discussing, and that is exactly what she strives to change with her advocacy. She aims for truth, community, and embracement of neurodiversity strengths so no one will ever have to endure the feeling of inherent backwardness throughout their life.
Rather than focusing explicitly on deficits and punishments, neurodiversity here is perceived in light of its strengths and beauty. This initiative focuses on upholding a platform for neurodiverse individuals to connect, receive support, amplify their voices, and share their work to mitigate misunderstandings and facilitate accurate representation. Because after all, neurodiversity is the best of variations—a conglomeration of profoundness, breadth and creativity.
the e in Serena may stand for the elephant in the room, but the A will always stand for advocacy. and ADHD. 😺🤙