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New inclusive space for neurodiverse students

Sensory corner with two bean bag chairs, multicolored rug, corner shelf with colorful bins and a ...

A sensory corner is open in the Adaptive Educational Services conference room in Taylor Hall UC 100.

The new space is designed to create a controlled sensory environment for neurodiverse students who are sometimes easily overstimulated. It has bins stocked with calming, pressure and multi-sensory items.

“I encourage anyone to check it out,” said Natalie Albert, assistant director of Adaptive Educational Services. “If you’re a neurodiverse student and you’re very overwhelmed, this space is designed specifically for you. It’s unique and tucked away. Take advantage of having your own little niche.”

Students who have autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are often described as being neurodiverse. Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how one communicates, interacts with others, learns and behaves. People with ADHD, one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders, may experience attention difficulty, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity.

Albert and Kevin McCracken, director of Adaptive Educational Services, applied for a Bridge to the Future Grant to create the corner.

The grant program, announced in fall 2022, is an internal funding opportunity for full-time faculty and staff at IUPUI, IUPUC and IU Fort Wayne to strengthen campuses across the state, with a special focus on building academic communities.

“The grant shows the university’s commitment to providing inclusive spaces for all students,” Albert said.

She hopes faculty and staff will spread the word about the sensory corner, and other resources and support provided by Adaptive Educational Services. As the disability services office for IUPUI, IUPUC and IU Fort Wayne, the office determines whether a student qualifies for accommodations, approves reasonable accommodations and ensures implementation.

“A lot of times students will disclose that they are struggling or have a disability, and they are not aware of our services,” Albert said. “If faculty and staff could mention our office at the beginning of the semester, or when they see a student struggling, that would go a long way.”

The sensory corner is available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students may schedule a time to use the space by emailing Walk-in appointments are welcome but subject to availability.