NMC opens Neurodiversity Support Center

TRAVERSE CITY — Beginning this month, support services designed specifically for neurodiverse NMC students will be offered for the first time at an on-campus center.

The pilot cohort of NMC’s Neurodiversity Support Center (NSC) consists of four students with a range of learning differences, including but not limited to anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder. Students may still apply for NSC services, which are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis and expand upon what is already provided by the college’s office of Disability Support Services.

NSC Coordinator Nancy Gray said the transition from high school to college is often more difficult for neurodiverse students. In high school, disability law grants them additional support services. In college, they must self-advocate. However, challenges with communication and initiation are a hallmark of neurodiversity.

“Neurodiverse students need more than the accommodations, which address academics. They need help and support, and the supports must also meet their social and sensory needs,” Gray said.

An English faculty member, Gray proposed the NSC after spending her 2022-23 sabbatical year researching neurodiversity support services that many other colleges and universities provide A key component of the NSC, located in Scholars Hall on NMC’s Front Street campus, will be training staff to meet the specific needs of these learners. For instance, self-stimulating behaviors, also known as “stimming,” help some neurodiverse students manage emotional and environmental conditions. Yet “stimming” is often frowned upon as disruptive.

“We want to normalize it, so that it is seen as both acceptable and necessary,” Gray said. “We need to increase awareness of neurodiversity, celebrate the strengths, and design educational practices that address the specific needs of neurodiverse students.”

Services will then include:

  • Weekly one-on-one mentoring meetings to work on individual short- and long-term goals
  • Structured study times in the Center with on-site tutors and success coaches
  • Workshops and seminars that address needs and build skills
  • Supported communication between students, faculty and NMC staff
  • Regularly-scheduled virtual parent or support system meetings, as desired.
  • Sensory-friendly social events, connecting students with similar interests

The prevalence of neurodiversity has increased significantly worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates autism spectrum disorder occurs in 1 of every 36 U.S. children, or 2.8 percent. In 2000 the prevalence was 1 in 150. About 11 percent of children have received an ADHD diagnosis, also per the CDC. Both conditions are significantly more prevalent among boys. Anxiety prevalence is estimated at just under 10 percent. Co-occurrence of multiple conditions is also common in neurodiverse individuals.

An advisory body including neurodiverse students, NMC employees and community partners have assisted Gray in planning the NSC. For more information, visit nmc.edu/neurodiversity 

Release date: JANUARY 8, 2024

For more information:

Nancy Gray
Neurodiversity Support Center Coordinator
(505) 501-3258 (mobile)



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