Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New Castle Co. Route 9 Library, Innovation Center to feature sensory room, farmers market

Traditional libraries aren’t typically the best places for kids with autism to learn.

Kids with autism sometimes struggle with certain aspects of libraries – like their open spaces or certain smells, even the smell of books.


That’s why New Castle County is incorporating a sensory room into the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center opening next September, to make libraries a more welcoming place for kids with autism.
New Castle County General Manager Sophia Hansen described some components of the room.


“You can adjust the acoustic wall and have vibrations, you can make the room any color you want, you can make a stream appear on the floor if they like movement to calm them while they read. It’s going to be an amazing place and it was designed in partnership wit the autism community," Hansen said.

Heidi Mizell, Resource Coordinator for Autism Delaware, was asked to participate in the design of the room.

She says the sensory room is designed to work two different ways.

“It’s like it can work in that it stimulates you enough to pay attention and have a story read to you or to focus on reading your story, or it works the opposite way depending on your needs, actually, in that it could be calming enough so that you can focus enough to hear read your story," Mizell said.

Mizell also suggested making the room wheelchair accessible - as well as incorporating a fiber optic curtain, bubble tubes, a vibration chair and more.

The room was inspired by Dutch company Snoezelen, a combination of two Dutch verbs “snuffelen” – to seek and explore – and “doezelen” – to relax.

Hansen says the innovation doesn’t stop there – and that the center will also feature a Lego room and a “scriptorium,” which Hansen describes as a sacred writing space.

New Castle County also received a $250,000 federal grant to expand the newly acquired Cool Springs Farmers Market and to open a new market at the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center.

It’s a three-year grant, and Hansen says goals include expanding the numbers of people coming to the farmers’ markets, and offering food literacy classes at the innovation center.

“We haven’t worked out all of the kinks of how we’ll design it: is the class first and then on your way out of class you stop by the farmers market and you stop and buy your produce, or if it’s after and you come in and take your bag with you," Hansen said.

The market will build on features of the innovation center – wet lab space, and a kitchen to be used for the food literacy classes.

This is the second federal grant New Castle County has received for farmers’ market growth. 

Related Content