Oakton hosts over 30 local organizations to assess neurodiversity needs

The event focused on current and future resources for the neurodivergent community.
Skokie, Ill. (April 24, 2023) – Oakton College brought together over 30 local organizations to discuss resources and ways organizations can partner to support the neurodiverse community. The Neurodiversity Resources in our Community event took place at Oakton’s Skokie campus on April 21.

“As part of our commitment to creating just and thriving communities, we want to ensure we understand the needs of all members of our community, including our neurodivergent population,” said Oakton President Joianne L. Smith, Ph.D. “By working with local nonprofit organizations, employers, and community partners and creating strategic partnerships to enhance services for our community members, we are creating a lasting impact in our district.”

Neurodiversity refers to the concept that brain differences are normal. A “neurodivergent” individual refers to a person with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia or other neurodiverse conditions. According to the National Cancer Institute, neurodivergent individuals, who make up 15-20% of the world’s population, have unique needs that may require special accommodations and support in school and work.

Unemployment for neurodivergent adults runs as high as 30-40%, which is three times the overall rate for people with disabilities and eight times the rate for people without disabilities, according to the University of Connecticut’s Center for Neurodiversity & Employment Innovation.

Organizations offering postsecondary disability-related programs, high schools and libraries participated in the event at Oakton. Panelists from the Anixter Center, Options for College Success, and the Douglas Center led a discussion on how local organizations can collaborate to serve the neurodiverse population better.

“Our goal was to create a space for organizations to identify the needs, challenges, and experiences of our neurodiverse community as well as to brainstorm how we can create successful alliances to enhance the services we offer to the community,” said Oakton College Access and Disability Resource Center Manager Teresa O'Sullivan.

Oakton College is proud to provide equitable access to education for all students. Advancing equity and providing educational opportunities for the diverse student body is core to Oakton’s mission and values. Oakton’s new strategic plan, Vision 2030: Building Just and Thriving Communities, includes the commitments of advancing racial justice, strengthening the student experience and enhancing workforce readiness and community engagement.

For more information about services available through Oakton’s Access and Disability Resource Center, please visit www.oakton.edu/academics/academic-services/access-and-disability-resource-center/, call (847.635.1489) or email (accessdisability@oakton.edu).