CHLOE HAYDEN: BREAKING STEREOTYPES THROUGH MEDIA
READ THE ENTIRE OCTOBER 2022 EDITION OF INSIDE EQUAL ACCESS
This article originally appeared in the October 2022 edition of Inside Equal Access.
By: James Trombka; Accessibility Specialist, Student Accessibility Services
Chloe was first diagnosed as autistic when she was 13 years old and was later diagnosed as ADHD at the age of 22. She started her activism work at the age of 18 through a blog about her experiences as growing up neurodivergent. In her blog, she explains that “I came to the realization that I wasn’t the only child who has felt like this, and there were thousands of other children out there who had gone through the same things I had in the past and continue to face in the present”. Her blog quickly took off and her advocacy work quickly began to spread to other platforms like Youtube and TikTok where her message to show the world that neurodivergent people are “different, not less” continued to spread as well. Eventually her work began to move to offline channels through motivational speaking and more recently through her acting.
One of the main tenets of Chloe’s advocacy is to break down the stereotypes so often associated with those who are neurodivergent or on the spectrum. In a behind-the-scenes interview with Netflix about “Heartbreak High”, Chloe explains that “Quinni is so empathetic and is so highly intelligent and so highly emotionally intelligent. Every single thing that we see of Quinni is challenging these stereotypes we’ve seen of autism for decades”. One scene of the show that garners particular praise is when Quinni reveals to one of her crushes, Sasha, that she is autistic after being confronted by her at a party for acting bored and uninterested in their relationship. Sasha is taken back at this revelation and stutters “yeah, but you don’t….like you’re not….like I’ve met autistic people and you’re like really emotionally intelligent”.
FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE NEURODIVERGENT OR ON THE SPECTRUM, KENT STATE HAS A VARIETY OF RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS LOOKING FOR ADDITIONAL SUPPORT.
In a video on her Youtube channel, Chloe expresses her frustration with the stereotypical image of autism that sits in the public mindset. She explains that these stereotypes are harmful “because this is not just something that is affecting the individual person. This isn’t just something that is a little bit annoying. This response is affecting autism on the whole globally”. She expresses her frustration of one doctor telling her shouldn't be autistic because she was “a girl and could make eye contact”. These stereotypes she hopes will be brought to a new light with the introduction of Quinni into the public sphere and viewers around the globe couldn't agree more. Viewers praise Chloe’s portrayal as feeling authentic, realistic, and like they are finally seeing themselves portrayed on the screen.
In addition to her silver screen fame, Chloe will also become a published author with her upcoming book “Different, Not Less: A Neurodivergent’s guide to embracing your true self and finding your happily ever after” set to release in early April 2023. The book is part autobiographical, part self-help guide for anyone on the spectrum looking for support. Through her book and continued advocacy work, Chloe hopes to one day “create a more inclusive world where everyone feels like they belong”.
For students interested in seeking a diagnosis of autism, the Autism Society of Greater Akron has a helpline that connects students with doctors who are qualified to give a diagnosis as well as additional support and resources for students already diagnosed as being on the spectrum. More information can be found at their website here.
Zach Strickler works as the Neurodiversity Coordinator in Student Accessibility Services and offers coaching and support for students with a variety of topics from time management and organizational skills to social skills coaching. Students interested can reach out to Zach at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities offers career counseling, job-search support, resume & interview preparation, and so much more to help with a transition to a career. Jessica Vass, the College2Careers Counselor at KSU can be reached at: email@example.com
Autism Initiative for Research, Education, and Outreach (AIREO) provides services for education and community outreach activities for students on the spectrum and has a page with additional resources in the area that students can utilize.
Additional Autism related groups and organizations can be found by searching the Student Organizations page in the Center for Student Involvement
As Zach Strickler, the Neurodiveristy Coordinator on campus reminds students looking for resources and support, “autism is a diagnosis. It doesn’t have to define you. It can be a part of your identity. Either way, you can achieve!”
Resources about Chloe:
Scene from Heart Break High:
Video from her Channel: