An innovative neurodiversity space – a first for the Inland Empire – will celebrate its grand opening on Feb. 5 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, in Pfau Library, room 4005, the Cal State San Bernardino campus. This unique space is designed to cater to individuals with various neurodivergent conditions, including autism, ADHD, anxiety, dyslexia, and others, while fostering an inclusive environment for everyone. This event can also be attended virtually via Zoom.
The grand opening, themed “The Cognitive Collective: A space for neuroharmony, neuroconnection, and neurodiversity,” or simply known as “The Cog,” will feature a performance by Adin Boyer, a musician from the world-renowned neurodiversity inclusion performing arts group, The Miracle Project. The event will include remarks from university leadership and community leaders, as well as guided tours of the neurodiversity space. For details, visit the Neurodiversity Space Grand Opening webpage.
The Cog, located in University Hall 401.02, is not just a physical space; it's a hub for neurodiversity, welcoming individuals with and without disabilities along with their allies. Operating Monday through Thursday throughout the academic year, the space offers a range of free programs, including a sensory lending library, a disability inclusion reading library, a sensory-friendly area, neurodiverse campus scholars' scholarship showcase, maker time, coaching, mentoring, and various events marking significant disability inclusion dates. All programs and offerings are provided at no cost. Additional information on the services and programs available can be found on The Cog’s website.
"It is an amazing new resource and focal point for the conversation on neurodiversity inclusion,” said Bradford Owen, associate vice president for faculty development and chief academic technologies officer. “Beyond student programming, there are valuable faculty resources, including self-advocate and faculty panels offering professional development. The Cog will spark quality research collaborations among students, staff, and faculty, amplifying the voices of an underserved population on our campus and beyond.”
The philosophy behind The Cog is rooted in the principles of neurodiversity and neurodivergence, recognizing the multitude of ways individuals experience the world. It emphasizes that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and social justice frameworks can evolve by embracing a variety of sensory, neurological, or cognitive processing differences.
“The Cog grew out of a vision by neurodiverse self-advocates on our campuses and in our communities,” said Jess Block Nerren, Faculty Inclusion Fellow for Disability, Difference and Accommodation and one of the co-creators of the new neurodiversity space. “College life is for all people with and without disabilities, and I'm happy that The Cog works collaboratively with campus partners to bring to bear all of the robust offerings a university has to offer."
Lori Palmerton, director of Services to Students with Disabilities, said, “We are thrilled to be part of the historic journey of the neurodiversity space, evolving form concept to completion this academic year.”
Looking ahead, Palmerton envisions expanding space and resources for The Cog to not only serve the immediate community but to become a regional hub and focal point for neurodiversity practices and scholarship.
Owen concluded, “We are proud of the visionaries creating this groundbreaking, inclusive, and multidisciplinary space that will benefit so many.”
About “The Cog” neurodiversity space: The Cog is a convergence of valuable resources in neurodiversity. It is a student resource, a powerful research hub on an under-researched area of neurodiversity inclusion led by self advocates, it is a sensory and reading library that serves the community, and much more. The Cog is open to all people with and without disabilities, who are and are not neurodiverse. There is no implication of disability by participating. There is no implication of neurodivergence by attending in Cog activities. This is a space for allies, individuals, self advocates, family advocates, faculty, staff providers, educators, community members, and anyone passionate about the work of inclusion.
About the Faculty Center for Excellence: In support of CSUSB’s mission, the Faculty Center for Excellence promotes the career-long development of faculty in the areas of teaching and learning; research, scholarly and creative activities; service to the university, community, and profession; and mentoring and collaborative activities across campus and the community at large. The Faculty Center for Excellence provides professional development to help faculty colleagues succeed in their academic careers by fostering creativity, learning, inquiry, and exploration through community, collaboration, and collegiality in a diverse, equitable, and inclusive atmosphere.
About Services to Students with Disabilities: Services to Students with Disabilities empowers students with disabilities by fostering skills of self-advocacy, resourcefulness and independence. The office works collaboratively with the campus community to remove barriers and promote an enriched learning environment where students with disabilities can utilize their skills and pursue their academic and personal development goals.
About The Miracle Project: The Miracle Project is a fully inclusive neurodiverse theater, film, social skills, and expressive arts program for individuals with autism and all abilities. Profiled in the two-time Emmy-winning HBO film, Autism: The Musical. Through shared creative experiences with peers, The Miracle Project encourages individuals with autism, other disabilities, and all abilities to develop social and job skills, enhance communication, increase self-awareness, and confidence, ease anxiety and find joy in the experience.
About Miracle Project performer Adin Boyer: From his classical piano, choir, opera, and music theory beginnings in suburban south Orange County to his massive solo and full-band indie rock performances after COVID quarantine and college, Adin Boyer is no stranger to living a life fully devoted to music, and discovering himself entirely through music. His sound draws influences from uplifting arena alternative rock outfits such as Coldplay and Keane, and the glorious ambiences of groups such as Hammock and Slowdive.