Building community in Neurodivergent Club

Finding a community in college is sometimes challenging—for neurodivergent students, this task can be even more daunting.  

In order to find strength in numbers, neurodiverse students and allies at Minnesota state created the Neurodiversity Club. 

“What we’re especially focusing on right now, and I’ll keep on saying this is just community, community, community,” club president Alanna Worrall said. “Building that confidence and getting rid of that feeling of loneliness.” 

According to Harvard University, neurodiversity describes the idea of people experiencing and interacting with the world in different ways; emphasizing how there is no correct way to think, learn and behave. The term is often used for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other neurological conditions like ADHD.  

“We realized that there wasn’t really a club that existed for neurodivergent students on campus, and there wasn’t really a conversation happening about neurodiversity and mental health as a whole,” Worrall said. “We really wanted to change that, and change some of the conversations happening around campus, as well as just building a kind of safe space for neurodivergent students.” 

Worrall stressed the importance of education on the misconceptions of neurodivergence, and hopes to promote, “rather than autism awareness, autism acceptance.” 

“Neurodiversity exists and not everything is at the norm, and that’s okay,” Worrall said. “It’s more about, ‘what are some things that we can do to make society more inclusive?’ and also, ‘what are some supports we can provide in order to improve individual quality of life?’” 

The club fosters a space to connect, share techniques, provide support and improve mental health in its members. 

“It’s really about getting to know each other and building those really strong bonds,” Worrall said. 

The Neurodivergent Club also works with Accessibility Resources to ensure MSU students receive the accommodations they need, including the accessibility space and an incoming library space in the Memorial Library. 

“Basically [we’re] making sure that everyone on campus gets the accommodations they need without too many hurdles,” Worrall said. 

In the past, the club has met to play Jackbox games, talk about hyperfixations and storytell, but the group has plans for bigger events further on this semester, including a collaboration with Wells Fargo and an educational event in April. 

“Loneliness exists in a lot of other communities as well, but it’s especially prevalent,” Worrall said. “Just anything we can do to address that and kind of work intra community, and then we want to begin working inter community.”

The club encourages MSU students with and without a diagnosis to join, either by attending a monthly meeting or joining its 24/7 operating discord at https://discord.gg/qVEzqUTeUA. 

“It (Discord) is going to be a space where people are able to just kind of connect, figure out places they can hang out, figure out how to do body doubling, like some study techniques, figure out how to connect virtually and kind of just overall fostering a better sense of mental health,” Worrall said.

Write to Mercedes Kauphusman at mercedes.kauphusman@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: Alanna Worrall (above) is president of Minnesota State’s Neurodivergent Club, a club to provide a safe space for neurodivergent individuals and allies on campus. The club hosts monthly meetings as well manages as  a 24/7 Discord server. (Mercedes Kauphusman/The Reporter)

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