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'It is a fun art experience': Common Senses exhibit at KANEKO stimulates the senses

Sensory driven environments geared toward those with Autism
Posted at 10:12 AM, Apr 03, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On World Autism Day, artists and architects at the Common Senses exhibit at KANEKO want to show people there are many different ways to communicate besides words.

Through sensory environments, the goal is to showcase spaces geared toward those on the autism spectrum. Something not normally seen outside the exhibit.

"We were trying to create environments and interactions between people combining science, technology and art," said Matthew Goodwin professor, Northeastern University. "Rooms don’t accommodate for that."

Goodwin co-created two interactive spaces in the exhibit. This includes The Living Room which allows visitors to control light color.

"The idea of The Living Room is that we can dynamically adjust it so that it fits the comfort of the person that is in that space," he said.

The group's second space, the Cardio Chairs are illuminated couches that use light and color to indicate changes in heart rhythm. Goodwin said they add a dimension to regular conversation and can be especially helpful trying to get to someone who’s non verbal.

"We’re encouraging people to interact with one another and see how it changes each other’s physiology," he said.

The exhibit allows visitors to create crafts, as well as take part in a dance exercise. Organizers said it helps foster a better environment for neurodiversity.

"It is a fun art experience," said Mary Gibilisco, executive director of Why Arts. "It’s also a way to bring everyone together because it’s so needed."

James Coleman, the second co-creator of the two spaces, said it’s about more than just being a neurodiverse community. It’s about how everyday environments can accommodate.

"It is in my view unfair that buildings are built for an average person which doesn’t exist anyway," said Coleman. "I think buildings should be personalized to the needs of the people who use them. What I hope comes of this is that people ask for buildings that are personalized to them."

The overall thought is that the more neurodiversity that can be brought to real life, the more inclusive we can be.

"This is what we like to see more of in our communities and our societies," said Goodwin. "We have more in common than what is unique. Neurodiversity is a wonderful thing when we can spend a little time getting to know it. Getting familiar with it and being inclusive."

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