Minnesota Father Spearheads "Neurodiversity Challenge"

Brandon Weathers
Updated: March 23, 2019 09:14 PM

Rob Hahn is a Twin Cities business owner with two neurodivergent sons. One of his sons has ADHD and is a freshman at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and the other is a junior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with Asperger's syndrome.


After watching his sons go through the college application process, Hahn began to question the way college admissions offices evaluate neurodivergent students.

“My son had an SAT in the area of 1490, but his GPA was just a hair off." Hahn believes a grade point average isn't the best way to assess the academic abilities of neurodivergent students because they might focus their attention on specific classes and neglect others. "You would think, ‘oh, they’re just lazy,’ but it’s much more complicated than that,” Hahn said. “I say, let’s look at the whole picture, and let’s give special consideration for certain elements of neurodiversity."

This became the foundation of the Neurodiversity Challenge. "The goal of the Neurodiversity Challenge is really to challenge college admissions offices and corporations to do a better job of recognizing the value of these neurodivergent individuals, actively recruit them, and really celebrate them,” Hahn said.

He would like to see a place for students to identify as neurodivergent added to college applications. “Just as they take into consideration race, socio-economic backgrounds, [and] first-generation college students, I maintain neurodiversity should be one of those components that’s really given a lot of emphasis, and highlighted once the students are admitted.”

Hahn thinks neurodiversity should be included in school campaigns addressing the overall diversity of the student body. He points out the Center for Learning and Accessible Student Services (CLASS) at Augsburg University and the On your Marq program at Marquette University as steps in the right direction.

“It’s going to take a few schools to lead the way," Hahn said, “but I think we’re on the precipice of a zeitgeist when it comes to society’s acceptance and embracing of neurodiversity.”

Hahn is currently filming a documentary to capture the efforts of the Neurodiversity Challenge using his own money and time to film. 


Brandon Weathers

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