Digame: Izzie Chea is Using Her Platform to Advocate for Neurodivergent Latinas

Dominican-Mexican-American content creator Izzie Chea has created a space for neurodiverse Latinas

Izzie Chea digame

Credit: Izzie Chea | Courtesy

Izzie Chea is a Dominican-Mexican-American creative, educator, storyteller, and mental health and neurodiversity advocate. After a late diagnosis of ADHD at age 35, she took her content creation talent to Instagram, where she has built a community of over 80,000 neurodivergents across platforms. She also runs an accountability membership program, the Accountable Otters Club (AOC), and her digital media agency, La Neuropicante. The AOC is a community for people who tend to burn out easily, has trouble prioritizing, has been derailed by hyperfocus, struggles with task paralysis or just needs external accountability when working toward a goal. La Neuropicante, on Youtube and Instagram, showcases her life as a neurodivergent through a mix of honest posts and memes. She’s become one of the most prominent Latinas speaking about the neurodivergent experience through her content.

“Self-advocacy and sticking up for yourself and understanding what you’re going through, you’re not alone, and there’s help out there for you,” she previously shared as a piece of advice for fellow neurodivergents during an Instagram Live chat with HipLatina. Here she shares the Latinas that have inspired her, advice on managing expectations, and how she stays connected to her Mexican and Dominican roots.

Which Latina(s) have had the greatest impact on your life and why?

I have a suite of inspiring Latinas who have had a great impact on my life. My Tia Maria, who was an accomplished pianist and teacher, transitioning at age 101; my Lala (Abuela), who followed her dreams to become a watercolorist and painter telling the stories of her beloved island, la Republica Dominicana; my Abuelita, who showed me the importance of hard work in motherhood, and my own mami, who was brave and strong during her own time as an entrepreneur and music educator despite her chronic illnesses. It is my understanding now, as a neurodivergent Latina, that many of my ancestors were also probably neurodivergent, adding another challenge to their own struggles.

If you could meet a Latina icon who is no longer alive, who would it be and why?

For me, Frida Kahlo tops the list. The pain and suffering she endured due to her chronic illnesses and mental health struggles resonates so completely with the real-life issues that many neurodivergent and chronically ill Latinas deal with every day. Her ability to communicate through her chosen medium, painting, is even more profound.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve received many pieces of good advice, but I will list three: My mami always told me to “make wise choices,” and this mantra has really helped me manage my impulsivity and emotional dysregulation. The next was from my Latina first-gen therapist, who said,” Stop lighting yourself on fire to keep everyone else warm.” One hundred percent a wake-up call about boundaries and people-pleasing behaviors that are frequent in neurodivergent women. Finally, I have my own piece of advice when it comes to managing my energy levels and expectations for myself, and it goes like this: “Lower the bar, and then lower it again.” Neurodivergents and chronically ill people are so prone to burnout and meltdowns/shutdowns. There is nothing wrong with setting low expectations of yourself when you’re in the thick of a burnout cycle.

Who was the first person to believe in your dreams/goals?

I would say, first and foremost, my parents. They embraced the erratic, unpredictable, and outlandish ideas I’ve had all my life and taken them in stride. They knew something was different about me, but without any support, especially as Latinos, there was no way for them to understand neurodivergence in the ’80s and ’90s. This is part of the reason why so many BIPOC communities and women especially can fly under the radar of doctors and therapists.

My goals were always rooted in this statement: I wanted to help people. I am fully committed to that through all the facets of my work in the neurodiversity movement.

How do you stay connected to your cultural roots?

Frequent visits to Mexico and the Dominican Republic (as many as we can afford!), as well as the cultural celebrations around holidays, cooking the well-loved recipes of both places, reading and discussing our cultural roots with my children, blasting merengue, bachata, and cumbias on the daily, and just overall pride.

What do you wish more people understood about what you do?

Since it has always been difficult to decipher what I do in an elevator speech, I wish people would understand that what I do is meaningful to populations that historically get overlooked and forgotten. I work daily to increase the representation of neurodivergent, Autistic, ADHD, chronically ill, and those struggling with mental health in the Latin community to showcase that they are not alone. They never were. And slowly we are chipping away at the stigma that perpetuates en nuestra comunidad.

What motivates you?

Coffee, cats, seeing more and more Latine folks telling their truths and living authentically.

How did you end up on the professional path you’re on now?

This story is way too long to include in this questionnaire, but I can simplify it to this: Identifying myself as a chronically ill neurodivergent Latina after a terrible burnout gave me the courage to live authentically from that moment on. Telling my story as honestly as I could allowed others to see what I have to offer the world, giving me the full support of the neurodivergent community to make big moves and amplify the stories of others.

What is your greatest professional achievement so far? Personal achievement?

My greatest professional achievement to date is the fact that I am going into year 11 as an entrepreneur and am brave enough to make big decisions and bold moves. I work specifically to improve the lives of neurodivergent people by partnering with companies and brands that have proven strategies and tools to do so. I’d say my biggest personal achievement is the fact that I went 35 years as an undiagnosed neurodivergent woman and still managed to get two degrees, get married, raise two children, and become a homeowner despite the mental and physical challenges I have had.

What is a goal you have that you haven’t accomplished yet, and what are you doing to get closer to accomplishing it?

I would like to organize retreats for BIPOC neurodivergent women that focus on self-preservation and burnout prevention. I’ve been toying with the idea for two years now, so I believe I will begin putting these together soon. My one goal is to provide the space for BIPOC women to truly decompress and achieve restorative peace in an environment that is fully supportive and understanding of their needs.

What pop culture moment made you feel seen?

This one happened a long time ago but has stuck with me all these years. I fully resonated with a line from the Selena film (1997) from Abraham (Selena’s father) about being Mexican American. “We’ve gotta be twice as perfect as anybody else.” Abraham also says, “We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time! It’s exhausting!”

I fully resonated with this line! It continues to be exhausting!

How do you practice self-care?

Quiet time, deep diving into my special interests, long showers or baths with the hottest water imaginable, saying “no” to commitments, being mindful of not overcommitting, napping, and spending time with my family in nature are several ways I practice self-care.

Quick Fire:

Shoutout an Instagram account that could use more love and tell us why you’re a fan:

For another trailblazing Latina who is making waves in the neurodiversity movement, I am a huge fan of Sara at @saranne_wrap. She’s Gen Z, so a generation younger than me, and gives SO MUCH VALIDATION to neurodivergent Latine. I’m so proud of the work she’s doing.

Shoutout your favorite Latina owned business and why:

I’m going with the local Latinas here in Houston who comprise the @houstonlatinacollaborative. The networking and support from this group are so good for any local entrepreneurs, as are the fun events they have on the calendar! Way to go, Connie and team!

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ADHD Latina digame Izzie Chea neurodivergent neurodiverse
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