Neurodiversity Alliance empowers neurodiverse students


Collegian | Trin Bonner

Barnaby Atwood, Staff Reporter

The Neurodiversity Alliance, currently known as The LD Alliance at Colorado State University, provides a way for neurodiverse students and allies to connect and organize to spread awareness and advocate for neurodiversity and learning differences.

The Neurodiversity Alliance is part of the larger organization Eye to Eye, which is a nonprofit focused on bringing advocacy, education and connection to neurodivergent people across the country.


Marcus Soutra, president and co-founder of Eye to Eye, identifies as having dyslexia and ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

“(Neurodiversity is a) very invisible experience,” Soutra said. “You have to tell someone that you’re neurodiverse and share that experience. I think that that’s one of the keys to why it’s so important to be able to create authentic community so people can share their stories and feel seen.”

Eye to Eye has several programs, such as near-peer mentoring and workshops, to support neurodiverse youth as well as spread awareness of and eliminate stigmas surrounding neurodiversity. The Neurodiversity Alliance was started to further that effort through young adult leadership in high schools, colleges and universities.

“This is just the beginning of the Neurodiversity Alliance, and we’re excited for more students to get engaged,” Soutra said. “The biggest thing we’re focused on right now is really building this community so that every student knows that they’re a part of an empowered and celebrated community and can have dignity and pride in being someone who’s neurodivergent.”

Anna Higgins is the president of CSU’s chapter of the Neurodiversity Alliance and is neurodiverse herself. Higgins brought Eye to Eye to her high school after feeling a lack of support for neurodiverse students there. Eye to Eye reached out to her when she came to college to see if she would be interested in starting a chapter of the Neurodiversity Alliance at CSU.

“We’re open to all individuals, whether they are an ally of people who are a part of the neurodiversity movement or if you are neurodiverse.” -Anna Higgins, president of the CSU Neurodiversity Alliance chapter 

“We are a small group of individuals who all have various neurodiversities such as ADHD, dyslexia (and) dysgraphia — everything along those lines — and we build a community based on that,” Higgins said. “We’ve done various (activities), sometimes we watch a kind of TED Talk, sometimes we just talk for an hour about what it’s like being neurodiverse at CSU, how classes have been — things like that. We basically all come together as a community. We’re hoping to do some events in the future. … We just started this past fall but (are) ever growing.”

While Eye to Eye has existed for several years, the Neurodiversity Alliance only recently launched, with CSU being one of the first schools to have an alliance. The Neurodiversity Alliance takes inspiration from the Genders & Sexualities Alliance.

“We’re open to all individuals, whether they are an ally of people who are a part of the neurodiversity movement or if you are neurodiverse,” Higgins said. “So in that regard, it means we would help with things like education, … in a very similar way that the (GSA) does similar educational opportunities — just in general helping people sort of bridge that gap between what they know and what they don’t know.” 

Annie Cunningham is an accommodation specialist at the Student Disability Center and is the adviser of the Neurodiversity Alliance alongside Al Keller. Cunningham was already looking to be more involved with the community at CSU, having only started in late July of last year, so she volunteered to be an adviser.


“(The Alliance is a) really great opportunity for students who are either new to CSU with a disability or new to kind of figuring out that they have a disability,” Cunningham said. “It’s a great way to just be able to come into a community who’s maybe in the exact same boat as you or has been aware of their disability for a lot longer and has really learned some different ways to figure out how to make what is systemically not built for them work for them.”  

The Neurodiversity Alliance hosts meetings 6 p.m. every Thursday at Piñon Hall in Amplify 127. The Neurodiversity Alliance is listed as The LD Alliance on RamLink but has plans to change the name during the next registration date in the fall.

“We welcome all people, and you don’t have to have a diagnosis either,” Higgins said. “You can just be pretty certain that you learn differently or just generally want to find that support system.”

Reach Barnaby Atwood at or on Twitter @Barnaby_Atwood.