Kate Middleton and Prince William meet “teen hero” with dyslexia, ADHD, and autism

Sixteen-year-old Siena Castellon knows firsthand what it’s like to learn differently — and to be bullied because of it. She’s been called names and made fun of by other students, leading her to switch schools several times. The London teen has autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning differences.

Feeling alone but wanting to make a difference, Castellon started Quantum Leap, a mentoring website to support kids like her. She was just 13. Over the next few years, she became an outspoken neurodiversity and anti-bullying advocate.

“On Quantum Leap, I share tips that I used to overcome some of the challenges caused by my learning differences,” she says. “I’m also a peer outreach worker for the Mayor of London. I help influence the mayor’s policies toward young people.”

This October, Castellon was recognized with a BBC Teen Hero Award for her work. And she was invited to Kensington Palace, home of the royal family.

“My initial response was disbelief. That was followed by a mixture of nervousness and excitement,” she says. “After all, it’s not every day that one gets invited to the home of the future King of England.”

As is their tradition, Prince William and Kate Middleton — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — hosted a reception for the BBC Teen Hero award finalists to acknowledge their outstanding work. Castellon was part of a small meeting with the royals.

“It was definitely a pinch-yourself type moment,” Castellon recalls. “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge knew my name, about my website. They knew about my advocacy and my anti-bullying campaign, #AlwaysBeKind.”

During the reception, Castellon was congratulated for helping to change some of the myths around learning differences and autism. The duchess even complimented her efforts to tackle bullying. Through her #AlwaysBeKind campaign, Castellon hopes to prevent other students from having a similar experience to hers.

Check out an Instagram post from Kensington Palace highlighting Castellon’s visit.

“I believe that having a learning difference does not define who you are. And it does not have to limit your dreams,” she says. “Some of the greatest contributions to our society were made by visionaries and innovators who had learning differences.”

Learn more about the benefits of mentoring for kids with learning and thinking differences. Read a post from Understood founding partner Eye to Eye on how to build a powerful mentoring relationship. And get inspired by more ADHD and dyslexia success stories.

About the author

About the author

Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.