Chance Sticklen at WCIA-TV in Champaign, Illinois:
Liam Crider has autism and says he’s still adjusting to the college setting.
“I’ve just navigated that, oh, it’s a new situation, it’s time to just go straight into it. I try not to worry about the social situations, I try not to worry about how I’m going to interact with my peers,” Crider said.
That’s where the Illinois Neurodiversity Initiative I-N-I program comes in, it helps students like Crider navigate campus.
“Being able to know what you’re good at and know what you need support in, and how you tell people about that,” Jeanna Kramer said.
Jeanne Kramer is the director of the Autism Program. She focuses on self-awareness and self-advocacy with students and says people with autism shouldn’t come with a label.
The four-year program aims to help students on the autistic spectrum and other neurodiverse students of any major achieve success academically, socially and professionally. Some components of the program include a pre-employment seminar course and an academic strategies course their first semester.
“Most people in their freshman and sophomore year of college are going through that identity seeking process, and it’s been really an honor and privilege to be part of this part of their identity,” Kramer said.