University of La Verne students had the opportunity to learn a variety of helpful tips on how to prioritize taking care of themselves during stressful times at the Neurodiversi-Tea Party in the Abraham Campus Center Ballroom Tuesday afternoon.
An individual who identifies as being neurodivergent is someone who has been diagnosed with a developmental or learning disorder, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia or Tourette’s syndrome. Some individuals may also identify as being neurodivergent if they have no diagnosis but think, behave or interact in ways that are outside the norm.
The two-hour event focused on neurodiversity self-care and featured guest speakers and activities, including a game of Kahoot and free giveaways of coloring books, colored pencils and fidget toys. Hot chocolate, tea, cupcakes and cookies were served.
Angela Aguirre, a Chicana author, speaker and teacher from Pasadena, was a featured presenter. Other guest speakers included staff of ULV’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), whose purpose is to educate and to promote personal growth and psychological well-being for students at ULV.
“Today’s event is to teach students about neurodiversity and ADHD since a large community of ULV students deal with some form of neurodivergence, and we are doing so in a nice setting,” Monica Esparza, sophomore child development major and Campus Activities Board philanthropy chair, said.
CAPS staff presented a PowerPoint slide show that gave useful insight to the concept of self-care, plus recommended many resources that can assist one’s self-care routine. The topic of various relaxation techniques captured attendees’ attention. Cited were a number of easy, quick self-care tips including meditation, yoga, guided imagery, four square breathing, mindfulness breathing, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, massage, aromatherapy and music therapy.
“I am really glad I came today because I have been struggling with finding time for self-care, especially in college, and now I have some ideas of how to start taking care of myself more,” Sarai Martinez, sophomore psychology major, said.
Among the roughly 40 ULV students in attendance, many said they held the hope of learning useful self-care tips and ways to cope with their various neurodivergent challenges.
“I decided to attend this event today because I want to learn more about how to battle my depression because it is something I am constantly dealing with,” Olivia Villalobos, freshman theater major, said.
Following the slide presentation by CAPS, guest speaker Aguirre addressed the group. Aguirre, a California State University, Los Angeles, graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies with an emphasis in rhetoric and social change, has dedicated her career to educating individuals on how living with a mental illness does not prevent people from thriving in their community.
Throughout her presentation, Aguirre shared poems from her book, “Confessions of a Firework.” Citing herself as a person living with mental illness, she was candid about her struggles with ADHD, anxiety, bipolar depression and addiction.
“After taking the ADHD label and creating an identity, I have learned so much more about myself and the diversity of how brains can be, and I want to share that with future generations,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre shared tips on how to embrace being neurodivergent, and she hopes that others will embrace their challenges as she has. Aguirre reminded the group not to look at being neurodivergent as something to frown upon, rather, it should be empowering.
“There are a lot more resources for neurodivergent people these days, and I know for a fact that there is at least one person in this room who will take what I have said in today’s presentation and thrive in their own life,” Aguirre said.
For more information on upcoming events, visit the ULV Campus Labs Engage website at laverne.campuslabs.com/engage.
Rebecca Keeler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Keeler, a freshman communications major with a concentration in public relations and a music minor, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.