A UNIS Hanoi student has been named a ‘world changer’ by the Special Education Network in Asia (SENIA) for her personal efforts to increase awareness and understanding of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among educators.
Grade 10 student Iris van der Velden has lived with an ADHD diagnosis since the Summer of 2017. With the assistance of her parents, friends and the Learning Support teachers at UNIS Hanoi, she’s been able to thrive in the school environment.
Earlier this academic year, when Iris learned she could explore any topic of her choice for her Personal Project, she chose to delve into the topic of ADHD. But she didn’t want to just learn about the condition and the range of treatments available, she wanted to blend her research with her lived experiences too; all in a bid to increase awareness. As part of her project, she wanted to deliver a presentation to teachers. Titled, ‘My Story with ADHD’, Iris shared her journey with the condition and took questions from the faculty and staff.
Explaining why it was necessary to give the presentation, she said, “ADHD is an unknown thing and I think it’s always good to listen to people who have it. I always thought it was important because my parents said if someone had said something to us earlier, it would have been very helpful. But no one did because it’s a taboo subject. Making it more normal is helpful.”
After Iris delivered her presentation to the ES faculty and staff, her Learning Support Teacher nominated her for the ‘World Changer’ award. And last week, Iris received news that she’d won!
“That was very surprising,” confessed Iris. “I was getting all these emails of congratulations from my Learning Support Teacher, my parents, the Secondary School Principal and others. I’m gonna be honest, doing the presentation wasn’t that big of a deal to me, but apparently it was a really big deal to a lot of people. And that kind of hit me; I thought, ‘Oh wow! This has an effect’.”
Looking forward, Iris is keen to continue her work to make ADHD less of a taboo and raise awareness of what it’s like to have ADHD. One initiative she’s eager to start is a Neurodiverse Students’ Support group at UNIS Hanoi.