EDRA 42 Chicago, 2011 presentation

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Therapeutically Enhanced School Design for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): EDRA 42, Chicago, Illinois

Therapeutically Enhanced School Design for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): EDRA 42, Chicago, Illinois

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  • 1. Therapeutically Enhanced School Design for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Comparative Study of USA and UK Ghasson Shabha BSc (Arch) MSc, PhD (Arch), MBIFM, PG Cert Ed School of Property, Construction and Planning (PCP) Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment (TEE) Birmingham City University Kristi Gaines, Ph.D (Environmental Design), IIDA Assistant Professor Texas Tech University
  • 2. Outline  Effective Learning Environments  What is Autism?  Purpose of the Study  Methodology  Conclusions
  • 3. Effective Learning Environments
  • 4. The Design of the Built Environment  The built environment has a profound effect on learning and behavior (Shabha, 2006; Lackney, 2003; Dunn, Griggs, Olson, Beasley, Gorman, 1995).  The design of educational environments must go beyond aesthetic value.
  • 5. Challenges  Inclusion  Classroom design varies greatly  Very little research exists concerning the physical learning environment for students with autism
  • 6. What is Autism?
  • 7.  Autism is a developmental disability that affects the normal functioning of the brain.  Students with autism typically display strengths in visual processing and deficits in auditory processing.  Individuals with autism display difficulty in social interaction, communication skills, and have a small range of activities and interests.  Autism is a “spectrum disorder”, meaning two students with the same diagnosis can display varying degrees of capability and severity of deficits.
  • 8. Autism US Statistics  1 in 110 births  1 to 1.5 million Americans  Fastest-growing developmental disability  10 - 17 % annual growth  $90 billion annual cost  90% of costs are in adult services  Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention  In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion Autism Society of America
  • 9. Autism UK Statistics  1 in 100 births.  Over 500,000 people in the UK have autism.  Only 15% of adults with autism in the UK are in full-time paid employment.  Nearly two-thirds of adults with autism in England do not have enough support to meet their needs.  While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to peoples lives The National Autistic Society
  • 10. Sensory Issues Associated with Autism  Dysfunctional/Impaired Sensory Systems (e.g. over or under reactive)  Hyposensitivity or Hypersensitivity to environmental stimuli  Sensory processing  Sensory jumbling and mixing
  • 11. Individuals with environmental hyposensitivities or hypersensitivities may exhibit stereotypical or self-stimulatory behavior in order to block out or activate the sensory stimuli
  • 12. Stereotypic (Self-stimulatory) behavior patterns Sense Stereotypic behaviors __________________________________________________________________ Visual Staring at light, repetitive blinking, moving fingers in front of eyes, hand flapping Auditory Tapping ears, snapping fingers, making vocal sounds Tactile Rubbing the skin with one’s hand or with another object, scratching Taste Placing body parts or objects in one’s mouth, licking objects Smell Smelling objects, sniffing people ________________________________________________________________________ Note. From An assessment of the impact of the sensory environment on individuals’ behaviour in special needs schools by Ghasson Shabha 2006, page 33.
  • 13. Purpose of the Study  Worldwide, the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders continues to increase. The question arises of how to provide for the educational needs of these students.  The objective of this study was to assess the impact of the sensory environment on the behavior of students with autism spectrum disorders.
  • 14. Research Questions  1. Does the design of the visual environment affect the behavior of students with ASD?  2. What visual design features of the built environment trigger undesirable behavior?  3. What visual design features of the built environment help to decrease undesirable behavior?  4. Does the design of the auditory environment affect the behavior of students with ASD?  5. What auditory design features of the built environment trigger undesirable behavior?  6. What auditory design features of the built environment help to decrease undesirable behavior?
  • 15. Methodology
  • 16. Methodology US  Qualitative approach using a focus group to develop a questionnaire.  Quantitative approach using a questionnaire directed at special education teachers in Texas.
  • 17. Methodology UK  Pilot questionnaire.  Quantitative approach using a questionnaire directed at teachers and carers of individuals with autism in special needs schools.
  • 18. The teachers were not asked for names of students.
  • 19. Data Analysis  Focus group - the procedures outlined by systematic analysis process  Survey Group - Descriptive statistics using SPSS
  • 20. Results
  • 21. Environmental Triggers  Visual Triggers  Auditory Triggers
  • 22. The Visual Environment Light • Color • Space organization
  • 23. Negative Visual Triggers (Focus Group)  Visual Clutter *  Disorganized space *  Fluorescent lighting  Glare  Brightness of light  Flicker of lights  Open concept space *  Built-in furniture *  Linear classroom arrangement *  Windows*  Odd color combinations  Red or orange with some students
  • 24. Positive Visual Influences (Focus Group)  Visually rich classroom  Thematic elements  Smaller well-defined space  Moveable furniture  Desks arranged in groups  Defined work space  Break-out space  Incandescent lighting  Lamps  Flexibility in control of lighting  Natural colors
  • 25. General Visual Triggers UK US Source of light (e.g. fluorescent light flickering, 96 % 44% direct sunlight) Intensity of light (brightness) 82 % 39% Luminance (e.g. reflection, shine, fluorescent glare) 87 % 20% Shining floors or walls due to glossy paint finish 12 % 10% Color and/or color contrast. 6 % 15% No. of sample (UK) = 93 US=546
  • 26. Detailed Visual Triggers UK US Patterned clothing and furnishing fabrics. 27 % 13.1% Patterned wall paper. 28 % 5.5% Color contrast of the main surfaces (floors, walls, ceilings and doors) and secondary 5 % 6.6% surfaces (skirting, architraves and furniture). Stripes on radiators, grills and gratings and lighting 36 % 3.1% diffusers. Visual changes and distraction (e.g. Surrounding 11 % 67% movement, body language of other individual). No. of sample (UK) = 93 US=546
  • 27. Ways to Alleviate Visual Triggers (Survey Group) Method Frequency Percent  Keeping the classroom tidy and orderly 371 75.3  Cutting down on moving stimuli and 287 58.2 keeping the surrounding movement to the minimum  Providing adequate natural light 257 52.1  Cutting down on all sources of 246 49.9 unnecessary visual information including non-essential body language  Keeping objects within the 224 45.4 classroom observable and accessible  Cutting down on color contrast 90 18.3 without altering the definition of object created by light and shadow
  • 28. Space Organization Note. From Accessing the Curriculum for Pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. by G. Mesibove & M. Howley.
  • 29. Light Note. From http://www.lbl.gob/Microworlds/ALSTool/EMSpec/EMSpec2.html.
  • 30. Color
  • 31. Visual Design Recommendations for Students with ASD Design Feature Description/Recommendations ______________________________________________________________________________ Lighting Daylighting or full spectrum lighting is preferred Cover the bottom part of windows with an item such as a bulletin board to reduce distractions yet allow natural light Eliminate or reduce the number of fluorescent light sources Cover fluorescent lighting with blue lenses or paper Use incandescent table or floor lamps as primary or supplementary sources of light Avoid flashing lights Color Natural colors such as blue and green Discover the student’s favorite color and use it in the environment and for instruction Use different colors of tape on the floor to identify different areas of the space Use color coding and visual cues Space Organization Boundary markers such as screens, tape, and furniture arrangement Break-out space or attached auxiliary space Reduce clutter Keep items hidden that are a source of distraction (e.g. toys) Study carrels Do not alter room set-up Other considerations Reduce visual changes and distractions Close classroom door during passing periods Avoid ceiling fans
  • 32. The Auditory Learning Environment
  • 33. Average Noise Levels of Everyday Sounds  30dB = whisper  60 dB = conversation, dishwasher  90 dB = alarm clock  100 dB = snowmobile, chainsaw  120 dB = jet plane takeoff  140 dB = firearms, air raid siren Sustained noise above 90 db(A) can damage hearing permanently Note. From Why Should We Care About Noise in Classrooms and Child Care Settings by Manlove et. al., 2001, page 57.
  • 34. Auditory Triggers (Focus Group)  Noise from lighting, air conditioning, streets  Noise from other students  Noise effects due to materials and finishes  Echoing in cafeterias and gymnasiums  Unexpected sounds (e.g. fire drill, loud speaker)  Plumbing noise
  • 35. Positive Auditory Influences (Focus Group)  MP3 players  Head phones  Carpeted floors  Wind chime  Low, calm voice
  • 36. Acoustic and Auditory Triggers UK US Unduly harsh and lengthy echoes caused by large 77% 20% un-curtained window areas and hard floors and ceiling in larger areas. Higher pitch sound (e.g. drilling and hammering sound, 23% 64% vacuum cleaner, fire alarm siren). Low pitch sound from the main road traffic (Diesel Engine). 37 % 12% Low pitch sound from extractors and PC fans. 42 % 16% Background noise from adjacent rooms and corridors. 15% 39% Higher background noise levels from group activity (e.g. discussion, 22 % 51% practical sessions, etc). Sudden unexpected sound (e.g. banging, cracking sound). 16 % 71% Noise from flickering fluorescent light. 28 % 18% Plumbing Noise (flushing water cistern, cold water pressure surge) NA 10% No. of sample (UK)= 84 (US)= 546
  • 37. Sources of Sound Creating a Calming Effect on the Children (Survey Group) Trigger Frequency Percent  Music (e.g. classical, instrumental, 201 39.6 soft, fun kid music, computer music, student’s individual preference, oldies, lullabies)  Calm voice (e.g. reading aloud 48 9.4 a poem, long vowel sounds chanted by students, counting)  Nature sounds 29 5.7 (e.g. music, rain, ocean, birds)  Other (e.g. headphones, low 11 2.2 humming sound, fan, quiet room)
  • 38. Auditory Design Recommendations for Students with ASD Design Feature Description/recommendations Music Soft music, classical, instrument, familiar music, computer music, music therapy, children’s music, white noise Nature sounds Music or other sources with the sound of the ocean, rain, or birds Water feature such as a fountain Spatial Provide an attached quiet room or space Reduce large open areas Technology Headphones: Use with music or computer Headphones: Use to block out sounds Video screens and equipment Reduce volume level on sound systems Building materials Reduce hard surface finishes where possible Use wall and ceiling insulating materials to keep background noise out of the classroom and keep interior noise within the classroom
  • 39. Conclusions  Sensory stimuli has an effect on the behavior of students with ASD.  However, the most problematic triggers differed in the two studies.
  • 40. Why the differences?  Sample size: 546 in US and 93 in UK.  Learning environments may differ in design between the UK and US.  The design of public schools in US and special needs schools in UK may vary.  Climate and sunlight differences.
  • 41. Outcomes, Practical Benefits and Implications  Provides a measuring framework by which some sensory attributes can be assessed objectively.  Provides further insight and in-depth understanding about the features of a therapeutically enhanced learning environment.  Maximizes the level of control on the design and construction of school buildings by further reducing the undesirable sensory stimuli.
  • 42. . Classroom Arrangement for Students with ASD
  • 43. Key____________________________________________________________ A A student with ASD should sit near the teacher’s desk. B Daylighting or full spectrum lighting is preferred. C Cover the bottom part of windows with an item such as a bulletin board to reduce distractions yet allow natural light. D Provide window blinds to control light E Use incandescent table or floor lamps as primary or supplementary sources of light. F Flexible switching should be available for overhead lighting. G Use natural colors such as blue and green. H Discover the student’s favorite color and use it in the environment for instruction. I Use boundary markers such as screens, tape, and furniture arrangement. J Provide an informal seating arrangement. K Provide a break-out space or attached auxiliary space. L Keep items hidden that are a source of distraction (e.g. toys). M Provide study carrels. N Close classroom door during passing periods. O Provide independent work stations. P Teacher’s Desk. Q White board/chalk board. R Lockers. S Display area for student work. T Provide some soft furnishings such as beanbag chairs. ________________________________________________________________________