Neurodiverse Care

Neurodiversity” is a word used to explain the unique ways people's brains work. While everyone's brain develops similarly, no two brains function just alike. 

The word neurodiversity also refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities.

created using Adobe Firefly AI stock image generator. We really admired the connection between the earth, nature and neurodiversity - highlighting the cultivating care piece.

Image created using Adobe Firefly and is AI generated.

UC Berkeley Neurodiversity Initiative

The UC Berkeley Neurodiversity Initiative is a community project aimed at addressing the unique needs of neurodivergent students (e.g., specialist assessment and care, including psychological and psychiatric programming, executive function coaching, peer support, self-directed online tools, mental health literacy programming) within the context of a holistic wrap-around of mental well-being and trauma-informed support. This initiative is characterized by co-design, co-led by individuals with lived experience of neurodiversity, and supported by a team of mental health care and system design experts.    

Many students may identify as neurodivergent but may not be registered with campus services such as DSP or have a formal diagnosis. We want to create a space away from this compliance-led approach and towards recognizing existing communities of care. We recognize that in place of campus services, our neurodivergent students live and study within existing ecosystems of care, support, and empowerment. We aim to recognize, foster, and resource existing care ecosystems and support them by adding clinical, professional, and community-building resources.  

Being guided by our project vision, ‘By cultivating care together, we realize the power of Neurodiversity’, we want to foreground community engagement and involvement through this survey and center the perspectives of our neurodivergent community. We also want to listen to and recognize the wider community and existing ecosystems of care about how best to envision and operationalize this future services model.    

This project aims to develop the highest quality, compassionate, trauma-informed, strengths-based, wrap-around clinic and Neurodistinct affirming spaces for all UC Berkeley’s students intersecting identities. This includes neurodiversity programming that extends from low-intensity strengths-based programming (mental health literacy material, apps, educational workshops), to routine counseling and peer support, to specialized and crisis response care, all informed by Stepped Care 2.0 principles.  

"By cultivating care together, we realize the power of neurodiversity"
Project Vision Statement

Project Mission:

Our mission is to create a strengths-based and trauma-informed neurodiversity clinic and neuro distinct affirming spaces that offer access-intimacy to all students. 

Project Vision:

By cultivating care together, we realize the power of neurodiversity

Project Objectives:

  • Collaborate with our neurodivergent community to establish an iterative space where individuals with diverse backgrounds and identities can thrive. We want this to be a space where people do not have to leave their identities at the door.
  • Recognize and support the unique perspectives and experiences of neurodiverse individuals in higher education.
  • Harness the power of Neurodiversity to transform how we cultivate care.

Population and Needs:

  • UC Berkeley currently reports that 1,702 undergraduate and graduate students are registered with a neurodivergent disability. This includes 90 with Autism, 1,082 with ADD/ADHD, 406 with Learning Disabilities (LD), and 124 with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with neurodivergent needs. While this initiative primarily focuses on these underserved neurodivergent populations, it also aims to promote intersectional community building across the entire campus.

    The Challenge: Research shows that many students with disabilities do not disclose their disabilities to their colleges or universities. For instance, only 40% of students with disabilities who used special education services in secondary school disclose their disability to their college or university. Similarly, only ¼ to ⅓ of students disclose invisible (e.g. neurodivergent) disabilities. This lack of disclosure presents a significant challenge in providing appropriate support.

Expanding Neurodiversity Support

The prevalence of neurodivergent students on campus is increasing, with some studies suggesting that up to 1.9% of college students may be autistic, an additional 5% reporting ADHD, and 3% reporting specific learning disabilities. This implies that UC Berkeley may have approximately 4,500 neurodivergent students. With the implementation of more accessible programming at UC Berkeley, it is expected that hundreds more students will seek support.

Questions or Feedback:

If you have any questions or if you are interested in providing feedback on the initiative, email