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Harford County, MD: Public library adds sensory room; hundreds of children use it

Feb 25, 2020, Baltimore Sun: Sensory Room at Abingdon Library helps children who have autism
When Mohammed Al Zedjali, 14, walks through the Abingdon Library in Harford County, he is unable to slow down and maintain focus to select a book to sit down and read. Mohammed has autism and schizophrenia and has significant social and communication challenges. The Harford County Library System opened its first Sensory Room tucked away in a locked room off of the children’s play area on Oct. 15. Now, Mohammed will walks confidently into the dimly lit sensory room, pick up a pile of books and sit down to read on his own. “It’s the highlight of his day,” said Javid Muradov, Mohammed’s legal guardian. “In facilities like this he can enjoy collaborating with society.” Mohammed is from the Sultanate of Oman and currently lives in White Marsh with Muradov, who brought him to the United States to go to the Kennedy Krieger School through a program that helps kids abroad with autism. They travel to Abingdon at least once a week so that Mohammed can spend time in the room. The feature is the first of its kind for the library system and one of the only public sensory rooms available in the county. ... Inside the room—designed for children up to 14 years old—are special sensory experiences that provide calming effects, stimulation, socialization, improved focus, motor skills development, cognitive development and sensory development. The room cost $13,000 to create, with all of the installations done by the library facilities crew themselves during a major remodel of the library last year. The Harford County Beyond Limits Autism Board provided $4,500, and the library’s budget took care of the rest. Features of the room include bubble tubes, color-changing fiber-optic lights, gel floor tiles, noise-activated nanoleaf light panels, a video projector with yoga and other programs, reflective surfaces, beanbags and stools for seating and to encourage balance as well as textured panels that make stimulating sounds…. From its opening in October through December, the room had more than 6,700 visitors and more than 850 appointments to use the sensory room….

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