A Calm Space for Students
The 'Calm Space'
The plans for the 'Old College Bar' renovation include provisions for sensory rooms, respite rooms and eating spaces as well as an open 'calm space' for students.
A university campus can be an overwhelming and over-stimulating environment for many students and may cause 'sensory overload' that can be very uncomfortable, and at times distressing, experience for an autistic person.
Sensory rooms can be a helpful way for people with autism to self-regulate by adjusting their sensory environment. This can be achieved by adjusting lighting levels, introducing coloured lights, playing music or wearing noise-cancelling headphones, even the use of 'sensory tools' to provide sensory input that can be calming.
Students are being consulted throughout the process of designing and 'kitting out' of the two sensory rooms that will form part of the autism-friendly calm space.
Many students (whether or not they have a diagnosis of autism) experience significant challenges with their health that may necessitate the use of a quiet space and dimmed lighting (for example, migraines or epilepsy). The new space will include two respite rooms that will be bookable by students registered with the DSS.
Our consultation with students highlighted eating on campus as a significant challenge for many. Therefore we have included some eating spaces in the new plans to provide for a calm, private space for students to eat. As the lack of calm eating spaces was causing issues for current students, we have put in place temporary measures to support students until the new calm space is open.
Click here to listen to Lisa Mary Dalton speak about her experience of eating in UCC as a students with autism and ADHD. Lisa's work was awarded prize funding from the UCC Equality Committee Small Project Fund in 2018.