Back to The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

Siena Castellon

Category: Advocacy, policy and media

Aged just 13, Siena created a website to mentor and support bright students with learning disabilities and autism.

An awe inspiring 16 year old

Remarkable 16 year-old Siena challenges many stereotypes. She’s autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic and has ADHD.

A bright spark

This summer she spent two weeks at Canada’s Perimeter Institute studying theoretical physics, had a physics work placement at Cambridge University’s famed Cavendish Laboratory and was a delegate at the 22nd session of the United Nations’ Youth Assembly in New York.

Aged just 13, finding that all online resources were aimed at parents, Siena created a website, www.qlmentoring.com, to mentor and support bright students with learning disabilities and autism.

She shares tips for overcoming the difficulties caused by her learning disabilities and autism and provides bullying advice. The linked @QLmentoring has over 2,700 followers.

Work

Siena is also a peer outreach worker in the Youth and Education team of the Greater London Authority, working with charities and organisations that support young people with disabilities, such as United Response and Roots & Shoots.

Research

Siena is a work placement student at UCL’s Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE).

She is currently working on an autism research study, and says she is passionate about being involved in autism research.

Advocacy LDA Leaders' List 2018

“Our involvement ensures that the research being conducted is focused on improving our understanding of autism, our quality of life and our support services, instead of being misdirected into finding a cause and/or cure.”

Campaigning

Siena works on mental health campaigns and campaigns advocating for children’s rights.

She has also worked with UCL’s Disability Services department to improve the services they provide to their current autistic students.

She serves on the Diana Award National Anti-Bullying Youth Board, where she focuses on addressing disability-related bullying.

Siena Advocacy LDA Leaders' List 2018
Siena at the Diana Awards.

According to a 2017 study by Ditch the Label, 75% of autistic students reported being bullied (and Dimensions #ImWithSam research returned similar results, with 74% of respondents saying they had experienced hate crime).

As one of those bullied students, Siena’s experience has motivated her to tackle disability-based bullying so that future generations of students with disabilities have happy and fulfilling childhoods and school experiences.

The future

The world is Siena’s oyster. She is now attending a highly-selective state special maths school called King’s College London Maths School.

We look forward to seeing Siena making waves (theoretical, metaphysical and metaphorical) in years to come. What a very worthy winner of a place on the 2018 Dimensions Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List.

Stop press…

Siena’s working too fast for the Leader’s List to keep up… here’s an update:

Siena recently briefed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on her work, at Kensington Palace and was bestowed the British Citizen Youth Award at a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster.

Most recently, she won the BBC Radio 1 Teen Hero Award for her website and anti-bullying campaign, which included a film of her work screened on BBC2.

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