autism sensory room in Chicago
WIU to add sensory rooms

It’s a remarkable initiative by Western Illinois University to establish sensory rooms at both its campuses.

This initiative will provide accommodation to individuals with neurodivergent students, such as students diagnosed with Autism.

In fact It is projected that these rooms will be open by the end of the spring semester of 2024.

What is a sensory room

To elaborate what a sensory room is, it is a designated room that is a peaceful for people with sensory needs. These rooms provide Autistic students a break from external stimuli like bright lights and loud noises, which can often be overwhelming.

And as Professor Stephen Shore pointed out, when you are neurodiverse, you don’t perceive the world in the same way neurotypical individuals do. Instead, you perceive bright light and certain textures as overwhelming.

This is why the new Illinois House Resolution 219, passed the previous year, promotes and urges universities to embrace and accommodate neurodiversity within their campus classrooms.

The backers of the Initiative

This resolution was courtesy of LaFrance alongside the Student Government Association President Kyle Ramlow, who approached Carl Ervin, Director of the Office for Justice, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, with the idea of implementing sensory rooms.

Upon hearing this proposal, the JIDE office formed the Initiative and Accessibility Committee to initiate a pilot project for such rooms on both WIU campuses.

Erwin stated that the goal is to create a calming and relaxing environment with dim lighting designed for individuals who require low sensory input.

The designated space for this room on the Macomb campus will be Morgan Hall 445. Items to be included in the sensory room will be evaluated and approved by the Western Illinois Neurodiversity Support team.

It is planned that the Union will have a similar sensory room, and eventually, all residence halls will have one in the long run. The goal is to make the entire campus neuro-friendly.

Funding this project

As for who will be funding this project, it will be a collective effort from various sources, such as the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, funds raised by the Initiative and Accessibility Committee, and support from organizations like the Central Illinois Autism Association. These collaborations showcase the University’s commitment to inclusivity and support for individuals with sensory needs.

There are also organizations doing good work in other states, such as Illinois Autism Center, which provides support for individuals diagnosed with autism.

On top of raising awareness, we at Illinois Autism Center strive to provide quality services, including ABA therapy, respite care, and other programs to help individuals reach their full potential. Get in touch with us.