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Interview with Neurodiversity Outreach Club

Previously published Jun 2. 2021

Previously published Jun 2. 2021

Neurodiversity Outreach Club is a student-led club formed in 2020 that is dedicated to destigmatizing neurodiversity and reminding everyone to make our community more loving and understanding.

The following interview was conducted between The Quill Entertainment and Culture Editor Alice Zhou (’22) and Neurodiversity Outreach Club President Katherine He (’22).

Could you please introduce yourself?

Hi! My name is Katherine He. I am currently a junior at BISV. I’m the co-founder and president of Neurodiversity Outreach Club. Our current officers are co-founders of the club, and everyone took jobs based on their strengths and previous volunteer experience.

What motivated you to start this club?

Most of us had volunteered for neurodiversity organizations before, whether for a semester, a class, an event, or multiple years. It’s just so clear how impactful it is to dedicate some of your time to helping the neurodiverse community. A few hours may not seem like much to you, but it means the world to a lot of neurodiverse children you volunteer with. We wanted to bridge the neurodiverse and neurotypical world by bringing this topic onto our campus.

Can you break down what you do during club meetings?

Neurodiversity outreach meets twice a month; we dedicate the first meeting to lectures and learn about different aspects of neurodiversity. We invited advocates and researchers who speak to us about their work and research during the second meeting. Members get a unique opportunity to do Q&A with these speakers.

Can you tell me about some of the past presenters?

Our most recent presenter was a high school junior—a neurodiversity advocate who started one company and two nonprofits for neurodiverse children, ranging from making curated therapy kits to creating career technical education online. Her name is Isabella He, and she’s also a friend of mine 🙂

Can you tell us a little about Neurodiversity Celebration Week?

It’s the period from March 15-21, during which we celebrate neurodiversity. It was celebrated by a neurodiverse individual who wanted to normalize the fact that brain differences are entirely normal. Whether or not they are strengths, they are still undeniably a part of a neurodiverse person’s character.

What are your thoughts on how neurodiversity is represented in popular media?

Sia’s movie was the first thing that popped into my mind, and it’s an excellent example. There’s a lot of stigma surrounding neurodiverse individuals, especially surrounding education, behavior, intelligence, and just the idea of normalcy people tend to have. Unfortunately, neurodiverse individuals tend to be underrepresented and misunderstood in popular media. In Sia’s film, a neurotypical actress was cast for the role of an autistic girl, and I find this problematic because the film speaks so much louder than the voices of actual autistic individuals. What gets displayed in the film is what the public ends up remembering—an inaccurate representation of the neurodiverse community.

If you could change two aspects of the movie, what do you wish you could change?

The number one aspect I would change would be to cast a neurodiverse actress. Let neurodiverse people speak their own narrative. You can never express someone else’s story better than they can because they lived it firsthand. The second thing I would change would be the portrayal of neurodiverse individuals. Films tend to exaggerate behaviors, motions, and speech inaccurately, and this leads to public stigma.

What responsibilities do you think neurotypical people have?

Let’s start with the baseline minimum responsibility that neurotypical people have: learning about the concept of neurodiversity. They should learn that brain differences are acceptable, normal, and valid. Just be open-minded enough to listen to what they have to tell you about their story. It’d be even better if people could get involved—speak to family and friends about it, join a volunteering organization, and advocate.

What do you hope the Neurodiversity Outreach Club will do for the community? What’s your vision?

I think this club interacts with two communities: our school community and the neurodiverse community. In terms of this club itself, we want to foster a community of young, dedicated volunteers for the neurodiversity movement. We’re already seeing that happening! Our members are all passionate about the movement, and it’s lovely to see. The more community-wide, school-wide aspect is for people to understand what neurodiversity means and for us to reach out to the neurodiverse community and impact their lives. Especially for COVID-19, 1-on-1 programs have seen many students, and often the neurodiverse children and volunteers become best friends. It’s just heartwarming to see things like that.
Join the Neurodiversity Outreach Club to build a more inclusive future for our neurodiverse community. We guide students to become advocates through lectures, guest speakers, and volunteer opportunities.

Member Testimonies

“Over the summer, Katherine reached out to me with the opportunity to connect with FCSN, and I ended up doing 1-on-1 tutoring. I had a lot of fun with my student, and it was definitely a really influential, if not transformative, experience. I learned about the importance of doing this kind of work, and Katherine was starting this club, so obviously, I joined. I really loved listening to the speakers, and I remember one of the seniors presented about how her project connected neurodiversity and athletics/dance training, and that was pretty cool. Also, the Kahoots are fun!”
Catherine Tan (’22)
“Since we were partnering with FCSN for a while, I wanted to add it [Neurodiversity Outreach Club] to all the other BISV clubs and to spread awareness.”
Luna Chen (Vice President, ’22)
“I really thought that there should be more awareness of neurodiversity and different disabilities because many people, in general, aren’t very educated about neurodiversity. I felt like this club was an excellent opportunity to educate myself first of all and to spread my knowledge with people to create a nicer environment.”
Aaryana Afroz (Outreach Officer, ’24)
“I knew about FCSN before I joined the club. I went to a few of their events, and I thought it would be a cool idea to bring what FCSN does to BISV as well, and participating in this club was a pretty good way to do that. This year is pretty strange. I was supposed to be the treasurer, but it’s a bit different this year since everything is online. There isn’t really a budget to speak of, so all the officers have just collaborated to help organize meetings, find opportunities, and things like that. It’s pretty cool.”
Daniel Chen (Treasurer, ’21)
“I was with this organization called FCSN, which we’ve partnered with, and I volunteered there as a piano teacher. Basically, a couple of other people who also volunteered there and I got together and tried to start this club because there was a parent initiative to spread neurodiversity ideals to more people, especially high schoolers around the bay. I joined, and here I am today. My favorite part is seeing a lot more initiatives around mental health in 2021. I think this club is one of the best ways for me to contribute towards the movement.”
Andrew Wong (Secretary, ‘21)
“I have a lot of neurodiverse family friends, and whenever I went to their houses, I would teach them little things, especially those related to art. That got me interested in art therapy for neurodiverse kids, and I thought this [Neurodiversity Outreach Club] might be a good way for BISV students to connect to gain rewarding experiences as I did. Through this club, I was connected to FCSN and started tutoring this really cute old lady named ‘J.’ I can tell she really enjoys it because she’s always smiling and sends me pictures of her artwork.”
Priyanka Patel (Partnerships Officer, ‘22)
“First and foremost, I worked with Friends of Children with Special Needs last summer. It was a really eye-opening experience. I think I learned more from neurodivergent individuals than I honestly could ever teach them. It showed me how ‘blind-sighted’ I was to what it was like interacting with neurodiversity. Because of that moving experience, I wanted to know how I can help improve opportunities.”
Emily Wang (‘22)
“Neurodiversity is a prevalent thing in the world. I think the statistic is like 1-in-5 boys are born with autism. On top of that, I love neuroscience—it’s my favorite subject—so I was able to put two and two together. The message as a whole should be more out there: neurodiversity as opposed to a disorder. Plus, if you want volunteering hours, helping out neurodiverse kids is one of the best ways to get them.”
Jay Subbiah (‘22)
“I wanted to join at first because they advertised a lot of volunteer hours, but after joining, I found out that there’s actually a lot more about neurodiversity other than just helping them and volunteering. It’s actually getting involved and accepting them into our community. I always walk away from the club learning something new, so that’s why I keep coming back here.”
Katherine Niu (‘23)


Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN) is an organization dedicated to providing information and assistance to persons with special needs and their communities. It’s an excellent group with various service and volunteering opportunities. Please check them out here!

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Alice Zhou, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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