University News

WIU Initiatives in Accessibility Receives Funding for Neurodiverse Resources and Programming

November 20, 2023

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MACOMB, IL -- In a significant triumph for students in the Peoria area, Western Illinois University has successfully argued for the inclusion of WIU as a service provider for the Central Illinois Autism Association (CIAA). By establishing that WIU falls just one county outside the CIAA's service provision range, the organization can now extend its vital support to students in the Peoria region.

The CIAA, located at 507 East Armstrong Ave in Peoria, IL, is dedicated to providing information and support to individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders, along with their families, friends and professional communities. Through avenues such as public awareness, education, legislation, and research, the CIAA aims to make a positive impact on the lives of those with autism.

"WIU is proud to collaborate with the Central Illinois Autism Association in expanding our services to Peoria area students," IIAC Member and WIU Political Science Graduate Program Director Casey LaFrance said.
"We believe in the importance of providing support, education, and awareness for individuals and families affected by autism and this partnership is a testament to our commitment to the community," LaFrance said.

The specific room designated for this purpose at WIU, which the Macomb team has named the "Kindness Develops Knowledge Sensory Regulation Area," embodies the mission of both organizations. The Macomb team chose this name because it is inclusive and aims to eliminate any stigma associated with its use. Discussions are also underway regarding the inclusion of sponsor/donor signage displays to recognize those who contribute to the success of this initiative.

The Initiatives in Accessibility Committee is proud to introduce the Sensory Project, featuring an inclusive website that will include a virtual sensorium. The virtual sensorium, skillfully developed by WIU-Quad Cities Museum Studies Faculty Angela McLannahan-Simmons, is designed to cater to online students, ensuring they can equally benefit from the initiatives. This innovative approach underscores the commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, extending the reach of our initiatives to all members of our diverse community.

"WIU Political Science is excited to partner with the JIDE office and the Initiatives in Accessibility Committee's many experts on the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses to continue directing support, inclusion and accessibility for our students and community members while also providing scholarship support and graduate policy studies research opportunities for WIU students," LaFrance said.

The Central Illinois Autism Association is thrilled to extend its reach to Peoria students through this collaboration with WIU. By fostering a better understanding of autism and promoting education and support, we can collectively make a positive impact on the lives of those affected by autism spectrum disorders."

For more information, email Julie Curless at or Carl Ervin at

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