An idea that has been formulating over the past seven years has finally come to fruition in Hiram. The sensory room, a space created to meet the needs of neurodiverse individuals, has opened in the Hiram College Library.
The new sensory room was a group effort as part of Hiram’s Power of Neurodiversity Project. The project was headed by Brittany Jackson ’04 ‘15, ED.D., online learning and learning strategies manager. Support for the project came from Janet Vogel, M.A., M.S., director of the library; Marc Freeman, media services manager; Hailee Yoshizaki-Gibbons, Ph.D., assistant professor in biomedical humanities; and Michelle Nario-Redmond, Ph.D., professor of psychology and biomedical humanities. A generous grant from the Hiram Community Trust helped fund the Power of Neurodiversity Project.
To raise awareness about the power and positivity of having a neurodiverse society, the sensory room was built to accommodate current and future students and meet the neurodiverse needs they may have.
Sensory rooms can benefit students for numerous reasons, they create an environment where neurodiverse individuals and students who need a break can relax and decompress. The space is more than just a room for students to refocus, “I believe it is important for all students, neurodiverse and neurotypical alike, to have a place to disconnect or decompress,” Jackson said, “or if they feel stressed, overstimulated, or anxious, to escape to in order to calm and regulate themselves.”
Jackson went on to mention, “While a sensory room can be extremely helpful to neurodiverse individuals to regulate their emotions or stress levels, it has benefits for all individuals. I felt it was important to provide our students with a space that they can access whenever they need it.”
Student input was taken into account even before the project had substantive grounding. Jackson asked students what they might want to see in the room, as well as where an accessible location for them might be.
“There are two rooms in the space. The outer room contains a large variety of fidget toys, two large beanbag chairs, super soft carpeting, weighted lap pads, sensory beanbags, and more,” Jackson said. “The other space, a former film-developing darkroom, is the deprivation space.” The depravation space features include varying levels of lighting that allow students to explore different stimulation levels. The room also has privacy features for students to relax in whatever darkness level they feel is right.
The sensory room is located on the bottom floor of the Library through the Media Center and is accessible to Hiram College students, faculty, and staff during open library hours.
By Noah Pilgram ’25