Vivint Smart Home Arena debuts sensory room for Autism Awareness Month

Local News
Sensory Room at Vivint Smart Home Arena 5

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – The Vivint Smart Home Arena debuted their sensory room Friday night in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

The first boys that went in the sensory room are kids that I’ve worked with for 4 years. They walked in and immediately their reactions were, ‘Oh my gosh. This room is built for me,'” said Holly Mero-Bench, director of Vivint Gives Back.

The sensory room is specifically designed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to calm and stimulate their senses, helping them cope with environments where it may be difficult to remain happy and productive, such as a professional basketball game.
“Imagine if going to the grocery store or doing anything from your everyday life was like being in the front row of a rock concert. That’s what it like for a child with autism,” said Mero-Bench. “Doing something like attending a Jazz game is nearly impossible because it’s overwhelming for them.”
“Families may stay away from events like a Jazz game because they don’t want their children to have a bad experience. Also, there’s a risk that parents might have to take their children out of the arena if that happens,” said Alex Dunn, president of Vivint Smart Home.
The sensory room offers its guests stations with activities on digital tablets, toys, puzzles on the wall, and mini-exhibits such as a Fiber Optic Comb and Marble Wall.
“We consulted with occupational therapists to get an idea on how to build and develop the room,” said Mero-Bench.
Dunn said 1 in 57 children in Utah have autism.
“If we were to fill up our stadium with children from Utah, 400 of them would have autism,” said Dunn. “We want to create an environment where all families feel included in the activities that take place here at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Everyone knows someone who is affected by autism.”
Mero-Bench said the room cost $60,000 to build and came to fruition thanks to the Vivint Gives Back Foundation. The foundation is completely funded by employee donations, which are matched by the company.
“When we formed Vivint Gives Back, we wanted to focus on something the team could make a difference with,” said Dunn. “We have co-workers and know many people who are affected by autism.”
“We don’t just write a check, we want there to be an opportunity for our team members to volunteer too,” said Mero-Bench. “We also work with other causes and organizations such as the Special Olympics.”
Vivint Smart Home has built approximately 60 other sensory rooms similar to the one at the arena in schools, homes, and developmental centers.
Access to the sensory room comes at no additional cost to the families and is available for all games, concerts, and events at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.