Students with autism at college or university face sensory issues
Many autistic people look for autism-friendly schools. In addition, they may also want to specifically have an “Asperger friendly” college. University and college students with autism may have sensory issues. Moreover, post-secondary schools like universities and colleges have noisy, busy, bright environments that do not lend themselves to being sensory-friendly.
The experience of autistic students is shared by many other students too. For instance, students with a hidden disability like learning disability, PTSD, concussion, anxiety, or even hearing loss. In addition, stress and burnout are experienced by university students worried about exams, papers, projects, and their future make busy, noisy, and bright stressful. Furthermore, a university environment that is busy, noisy, and bright creates additional stress for everyone at times.
So, students in high school and post-secondary education face stress from a variety of factors. Consequently, many colleges and universities across the world have taken steps to address this important issue.
Sensory rooms can help with sensory issues
Universities and colleges create autism-friendly schools by adding sensory rooms to their campuses. In fact, there are even sensory pods for autism.
Students with autism look for autism-friendly libraries, multi-sensory rooms, or sensory study rooms. For instance. these rooms often contain things like:
- light tube
- bubble tube
- LED strip lighting and lamps (not fluorescent)
- Rocking chair,
- Bean bag
- Wobble cushion
- Sensory fidgets
- Relaxing music
- Yoga mat
- Punching bag
Sensory activities are taking the stage for autism and college success!
Sensory activities include sensory friendly movies, relaxed performances, and other sensory-friendly events. Most noteworthy, universities and colleges are taking the lead with students and the community alike and hosting sensory-friendly events on campus.
For example, universities and colleges are putting on relaxed performances. They make extra efforts to accommodate the audience and ensure an accessible venue. The sensory experience is adapted too. With things like no spotlights. Performers prepare for the audience to move around more during the show.
Likewise, post-secondary schools host sensory-friendly movie nights. Similar to relaxed performances, house lights are up and volume is down. As well, accessibility accommodations are made too.
Finally, this is Elaine Chen in the photo above. She was an MBA graduate of the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and contributor to this blog post. Moreover, Elaine completed an internship at Sensory-Friendly Solutions in 2018. She found a sensory-friendly space at UNB Saint John campus in New Brunswick, Canada during her studies there. Elaine says, “Down a corridor, there is this little spot between classrooms and offices in Oland Hall. Students and professors alike, who want a break, can sit down on these sofas and enjoy a peaceful environment. When I sit there, I like to feel the warmth of the sunlight and calmness that sitting amongst plants brings. I would love to see more places like this on my campus.”
In conclusion, this is a wonderful example of a sensory-friendly space, highlighted by Elaine. However, it also demonstrates the need for a sensory-friendly map on campus. For instance, a sensory-friendly map would show students, including students with autism, where to find sensory rooms or even sensory-friendly spots like this. On a large campus, with a large student body, this is incredibly helpful!