The Effects of Environmental Noise on the Behavior of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

By Kristi Gaines and Sherry Sancibrian.

Published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A high percentage of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience auditory sensory dysfunction (Freed & Parsons, 1997; Grandin, 1995; Quill, 1995). This exploratory study was directed toward identifying (1) whether the design of the auditory environment affects the behavior of students with autism spectrum disorders, (2) auditory triggers in the learning environment for students with ASD, and (3) auditory design features of the built environment that decrease undesirable behavior. A focus group and questionnaire were utilized to achieve these objectives. Noise within the physical environment was found to have an effect on behavior and learning for children with ASD. Sudden unexpected sound and higher pitched sounds were found to be the main sound triggers. Auditory design recommendations included the use of music, spatial organization, technology, and building materials within the physical environment. This study presents a line of inquiry that is virtually untapped in the field of educational design and warrants further investigation.

Keywords: Autism, Auditory, Environmental Design, Educational Design

The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.51-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 455.594KB).

Dr. Kristi Gaines

Assistant Professor, Department of Design, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA

Kristi Gaines, Ph.D., IIDA, is an assistant professor at Texas Tech University and received her Ph.D. in environmental design with collaterals in special education. She has 14 years of professional interior design experience including projects in health care, hospitality, office, and high end residential design. Her research and publications focus on the impact of the built environment on the behavior of individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Sherry Sancibrian

Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Health Sciences Center, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA

Sherry Sancibrian has worked as a speech and language pathologist in schools, acute care, and outpatient rehabilitation, and has been teaching at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center for 26 years. She is a professor and the program director for the graduate speech-language pathology program and the undergraduate speech-language and hearing sciences programs.