CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A new program at the University of Illinois is supporting students who are on the autism spectrum.

The director of the Illinois Neurodiversity Initiative Pilot Program said they are helping students reach their full potential through lectures and hands-on lab classes. She said these skills go beyond graduation and they want to connect students with employers.

“There’s up to an 80 percent unemployment rate or under-employment rate for people on the spectrum,” said Director Jeanne Kramer. “Many individuals on the spectrum who go to college will end up doing a job that’s well under their capability.”

There are 10 students in the program, all freshmen and sophomores majoring in subjects ranging from business to engineering. Kramer said it really hits close to home for her because her son is on the autism spectrum. She said he is one of the reasons why she wanted to start the program.