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Aurora, IL: University opens unique autism dorm

Nov 3, 2021, Patch: New Dorm For Students With Autism Opens At Aurora (IL) University

AURORA, IL — Aurora University unveiled the opening of the new Betty Parke Tucker Center for Neurodiversity, complete with a newly constructed, state-of-the-art dorm, to support college students on the autism spectrum, officials announced Tuesday.

The Betty Parke Tucker Center will be home to the university's Pathways Collegiate Program, which helps college students with autism "reach their potential in their studies and in their careers," school officials said. The first class of Pathways students will start in fall 2022….

"We are thrilled to be one of the first universities in the nation to welcome college-capable students on the spectrum to a fully immersive campus experience that will help them reach their potential in their studies and their careers," AU President Rebecca L. Sherrick said in a statement. "These young people have so much to share and contribute. We know that when provided with the right support, the right environment, the right encouragement, college-capable students on the spectrum will earn their degrees and take meaningful roles in society and productive roles in the workplace."

The new five-story residence hall, slated to open to neurodiverse and neurotypical students in late 2022, is built with sensory supportive spaces designed for students on the autism spectrum. These spaces are meant to alleviate anxiety with adjustable lighting, pale colors, flooring to reduce sound and patterns that limit visual stimuli, officials said.

The design of the sensory supportive spaces includes common spaces with flexible seating, quiet study spaces and private showers with adjustable water pressure….

According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 54 children are diagnosed with autism, and it's estimated that 44 percent of people with autism have above-average IQs, the school said….


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