April is Landscape Architecture Month AND Autism Month. Because I do research on outdoor environments for autistic children and synthesize this info into landscape designs, I’ll be posting the intersection of these two this month.
One research finding that autistic children and their parents have discussed with me concerns sensory issues that prevent the children from enjoying environments. A good book that looks at the sensory issues so that caregivers and educators can better understand the children is by Olga Bogdashina: Sensory Perceptual Issues in Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Olga points out where the nervous system does not communicate properly with the brain and how, instead, many children perceive their environments in a mystifying way to others.
How does this affect the built environment? Here’s an example: parents and teachers have told me that many of their children will not use bathrooms in schools because of the noise the toilets make. Selection of different toilets and acoustical treatment of the room (paint, material choices, etc.) can make the restrooms bearable for people with audio problems.
Tomorrow: Outdoor environments, such as playgrounds, have similar noise issues.