Colleges and universities are often loud and hectic places, and that’s one of the things many people love about them. The sheer energy and vitality of so many young people learning to be independent, exploring new realms of possibility in their lives, and having fun at the same time is a beautiful thing to behold. But for some students, namely those on the autism spectrum, this same sense of every-present and loud energy can be draining, confusing, and downright awful.
More and more, however, higher-level educational institutions are working to become more autism-friendly in a variety of ways. As the world becomes more aware of the intelligence and competence of people on the autism spectrum and values them more as contributing members of society, schools are adapting to work with individuals with autism to help them succeed in the realm of education.
In its effort to maintain its status as the world’s first autism-friendly university, Dublin City University has adopted a new sensory-friendly space in its library that autistic and neurotypical students alike are sure to love.
This new “sensory pod” is sure to rival anything found at other colleges and universities. Students who wish to relax or study in a peaceful and quiet environment can head to the library, an already quiet space, and find this pod tucked nondescriptly into a corner. Enter through a sliding door, and all of a sudden you’re in a little world all your own.
Inside the pod, you can choose the level of lighting you desire, as well as the color of the light. There are soft pillows and blankets inside for relaxing and napping, as well as air conditioning for those warm days. Special speakers allow you to add music or other soundtracks (maybe your professor’s latest lecture?) to your space.
The plans for the pod have come after an 18-month study revealed some of the ways people with autism are most aggravated by things on campus. These potentially bothersome things ranged from walls painted red to the hum of projectors. Some of the problems were relatively easy to fix, while others, like the loud sounds of campus, have required more creative responses.
Aside from its new sensory pod, Dublin City University has also taken steps to help students on the spectrum succeed on campus, including getting rid of flickering lights, being more careful about pungent smells in the dining hall, spacing furniture farther apart so public spaces don’t feel as crowded, and more.
Learn more about Dublin City University’s sensory pod in the video below.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?