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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Neurodiversity specialist supports students amid digital environment

Nate Stephenson
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While students may be struggling with the lack of social interaction, City College Consultant and Neurodiversity Specialist Natalie Holdren is supporting students in the virtual environment. 

Holdren is available to meet with students one-on-one, and has been hosting a monthly online social group open to all students, as well as a weekly DSPS neurodiversity club. 

“I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to talk to more students and assist them in any way that I can,” said Holdren. 

The switch to online classes has its benefits and disadvantages. 

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It keeps everyone safe and allows more flexibility in peoples’ schedules, but issues of isolation and complications with technology are bound to arise.

The barriers of technology and correctly navigating courses have proven to be challenging for students with mental conditions, according to Holdren.

She suggested ways teachers can help with this, like making courses easy to navigate in a uniform way. She also suggests having Zoom links available and easy to find, and not having links in different areas like having one in an email and another under modules.

These reasons make it all the more important that Holdren’s services are open to any student that would feel like they could benefit from them.

“In a relaxed environment, students build relationships and open up about their issues, and can be referred to the right person,” said Holdren.

Holdren has experience in assisting students with direct issues like time management or organizational skills. She also helps with more complex scenarios such as social skills, navigating a relationship with a teacher, or being a student that is newly diagnosed with a neurological difference.

The monthly social group and weekly neurodiversity club have shown great success in giving students a space to interact in while also being able to get any help that they may need. 

Holdren emphasized the fact that because she is a consultant to City College, she is available to assist all students, not just students with neurological differences. 

“Natalie sees any student who feels they need additional support,” said DSPS Director Jana Garnett. “She is a great help, not only for DSPS but for City College as a whole.” 

Holdren is available for consultation via email, and would like to encourage students to contact her if they would find her services to be of any help. 


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