Photo by Parker Wang

Neurodiversity Awareness Week kicks off at Paly’s Lantern Night

To help spread awareness of the issues that the neurodivergent population faces, freshman Joshua Kao hosted Lantern Night on the quad Thursday evening.

Kao scheduled Lantern Night to take place during neurodiversity week — a week to bring about worldwide neurodiversity acceptance, equality and inclusion in schools and workplaces. The event provided snacks, music, and lanterns for people to light.

Last November, Kao attended a neurodiversity program at Stanford, called the Stanford Neurodiversity Summit, which allowed him to be more involved with the neurodiversity community and learn about neurodiverse learners. 

Kao began organizing Lantern Night with “Neurodiversity Hooray!” — an organization promoting neurodiversity awareness — since February. He also spoke about neurodiversity during this week’s PRIME periods. Kao said he first got involved in neurodiversity through his encounters with one of his cousins who has autism. 

“Seeing the intriguing, different but beautiful ways he acted truly touched my heart,” Kao said. “For example, my cousin can color for hours and hours, without losing interest: all with a bright smile on his face.”

“Neurodiversity Hooray!” collaborated with Paly Price, a neurodiversity club, withfounder Ila Perinkulam speaking at the event. 

Special Education teacher Rachael Kaci worked at Lantern Night and said neurodiversity is a topic that matters to her.

“It’s very important for everyone to understand that we have different learners and we’re all amazing in different ways,” Kaci said. 

Kao said neurodiversity and neurodivergent individuals don’t need to be cured.

Kao said, “They simply have a different, unique and beautiful way of perceiving and learning things in this world.”