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Chico, CA: Chico State "celebrates" the 20% of us who are "neurodivergent"

Sept 24, 2022, ABC7 Chico, CA: Chico State celebrates neurodiversity with 2022 awareness symposium https://krcrtv.com/news/local/chico-states-celebrates-neurodiversity-with-2022-awareness-symposium

Chico State hosted this year’s 2022 Neurodiversity & Disability Symposium to support and advocate for neurodivergent individuals in the community. This is the first year of hosting the symposium that Chico State was able to broaden the conference from an autism-only focused symposium to one built around a broader discussion related to neurodivergence in the Northstate.

The symposium kicked off at 8:45 AM with featured speaker and writer Steve Silberman, who talked about what the term “Neurodiversity” means. Silberman hopes that this growing movement of awareness for neurodiversity will help frame autism and other conditions like dyslexia and ADHD as “natural human variation[s] rather than disorders.”

KRCR was able to talk to the Director of the Autism Clinic on Chico State and associate professor in the Kinesiology Department, Josie Blagrave.

“Neurodiversity is really just the concept that everyone's brain is wired differently. It’s really come out of the autistic community language in the past maybe five or six years” Blagrave shares.

According to the Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics Staff’s recent report “Neurodiversity describes the variation in the human experience of the world, in school, at work, and through social relationships. Driven by both genetic and environmental factors, an estimated 15-20 percent of the world's population exhibits some form of neurodivergence.”

“I think honestly awareness is the first step when it comes to understanding how to support those in this community” Blagrave states. She goes on to explain how most people “...Do things [in] different ways and [it's not about] making more of a 'us' or 'them', but more of like; We are all in this together, going about our lives doing the best we can.”

The conference was filled with thoughtful presentations whose primary focus was to bring support, awareness, and kindness to those who experience neurodiversity. The conference closed with TED speaker Alycia Anderson, who brought awareness to how often “Ableism” occurs and is overlooked in our society. In her speech, she questioned, “What does it look like when you put yourselves in another's shoes or wheels and shift perspectives of what is perceived as possible by turning off or disabling ableism? Differences are okay!"

In the symposium's introduction packet, Alycia goes on to share, “The Autism Clinic is kind of our little best secret here on campus. We have been around for [about] 20 years now. Our space work[s] specifically with gross motor skills, so we are coming in at a more adaptive physical education standpoint”

Blagrave states and explains how the Autism Clinic has served “... About 500 families over the past 20 years, and has a current caseload of about 50 families. We are very fortunate and really connected with the families here at the Northstate.”

Chico State Autism Clinic was formed in 2003 by Kinesiology faculty Rebecca Lytle who provided a safe place for children on the autism spectrum with a home that they can be active and comfortable to learn in their own way. This clinic continues to be a huge support system for families whose children are on the spectrum.