Georgia State needs sensory rooms on campus

Illustration by Myah Anglin | The Signal

In 2018, Adelphi University opened a new sensory room for students with autism spectrum disorder. Sensory rooms are spaces designed to help individuals with sensory issues learn to regulate their brain’s adverse reactions to external stimuli by developing coping skills for these experiences.

Georgia State ranks second in the nation for innovation and third in commitment to undergraduate teaching rankings. How can we claim to be innovative and dedicated to undergraduate teaching while students with special needs are left with nowhere to focus, relieve stress or feel valued?

Georgia State should invest more funding into special disability services, so there can be a sensory room like Adelphi University.

Students with autism spectrum disorders have extremely acute senses. Because of this, they can suffer from sensory overload. Certain textures, tastes, sounds, lights and smells can make them nervous, irritable or upset.

Sensory rooms allow students with autism and ADHD to self-regulate their behaviors. They create a calm space for neurodivergent students to focus and relieve stress. Adelphi University’s sensory room has low lighting, a sensory wall, soft-textured floors, a porch swing to sway back and forth and oversized bean bags

Adelphi University was founded in 1896, but students with special needs waited until  2018 to be accomodated. Other than the disability services that universities are required to offer, not many universities have sensory rooms for neurodivergent students.

To get another perspective on neurodivergent representation and daily struggles, I interviewed Amaiya Parker, a Georgia State junior with an 18-year-old brother with high-functioning autism.

When asked if institutions have enough policies for students with special needs, she said, “I think the problem is when institutions don’t have the money to accommodate these kids, corners are cut.”

Her brother Jaden, a high school senior, is gathering his options for college. Parker said that a sensory room on campus would make Georgia State a more appealing option for her brother.

We discussed what causes sensory overload for Jaden: bright lights, loud noises and table residue from cups. When asked about how she would feel if Georgia State announced the opening of an on-campus sensory room in 2023, she said she’d be extremely happy and that this decision would be “amazing” and “progressive.”

Adding a sensory room to campus would show the true innovative spirit of Georgia State.

Sensory rooms dedicated to students with special-needs reveal an effort towards neurodivergent inclusivity. Hopefully, Georgia State invests more time and money towards neurodivergent advancement services. Neurodivergent students are worthy of being heard and valued. Georgia State’s disability services are not enough.