Adelphi University opened a new facility to help students with autism spectrum disorder be successful—and it's a first of its kind on a college or university campus.
Adelphi University, and its Bridges to Adelphi program, have opened a new facility to help students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) be successful—and it’s a first of its kind on a college or university campus.
Called a sensory room, the new space was dedicated on Monday, January 22, thanks to a partnership with the Alabama-based organization KultureCity as part of its sensory initiative, which has created similar facilities at MetLife Stadium, arenas, zoos and other public spaces around the country.
“The creation of the Sensory Room at Adelphi University will not only impact the students in this University directly, but it also sends a message that our culture is shifting toward inclusion for all students, particularly in the higher education system,” said Michele Kong, M.D., co-founder and chief medical officer of KultureCity. “It was built with input from key stakeholders, including the students themselves, and will be the gold standard which higher education systems will need to meet.”
Adelphi’s Sensory Room is a calming refuge for students and others in the campus community with ASD or other sensory special needs. An anonymous donation to KultureCity covered most of the costs.
“It’s an environment that will soothe students with a soft, textured floor, a sensory wall, a suspended pouch swing, oversized beanbag chairs and low lighting,” said Bridges Director Mitch Nagler, M.A. ’06.
“It will be a place that we designed where students can go when their minds are racing and they need to let themselves settle down and relax,” said Bridges Social Coordinator Stephanie Dawber ’12, M.A. ’13, M.S.W. ’17.
The facility also features a bubble wall with soothing lights and colors and an Adelphi-student-produced mural, completed in partnership with a paleontologist who works with KultureCity.
Bridges—which provides academic, social and vocational support along with counseling to students with autism spectrum disorder—is part of Adelphi University’s commitment not only to individualized education but also to diversity and inclusion for a wide variety of students. The program is celebrating its 10th year at Adelphi. When it opened in 2007, it had three regular clients; today, there are more than 100. In addition to serving current students and the campus community, it also provides services to Adelphi alumni navigating their careers and graduate education.