Grad Student’s Theraputic Landscape for Autistic Children

Portions below were copied and pasted directly from the following Medical News Today post on May 9, 2012: (Click title below to go to full article)

‘Schoolyard Designed For Children With Autism’

A Kansas State University graduate student is creating a schoolyard that can become a therapeutic landscape for children with autism. Chelsey King, master’s student in landscape architecture, St. Peters, Mo., is working with Katie Kingery-Page, assistant professor of landscape architecture, to envision a place where elementary school children with autism could feel comfortable and included.

The schoolyard can be an inviting place for children with autism, King said, if it provides several aspects: clear boundaries, a variety of activities and activity level spaces, places where the child can go when overstimulated, opportunities for a variety of sensory input without being overwhelming and a variety of ways to foster communication between peers.

“Through this research, I was able to determine that therapies and activities geared toward sensory stimulation, cognitive development, communication skills, and fine and gross motor skills — which traditionally occur in a classroom setting – could be integrated into the schoolyard,” King said.

King created different signs and pictures boards around these schoolyard elements, so that it was easier for children and teachers to communicate about activities. She also designed a series of small hills around the central play areas so that children with autism could have a place to escape and watch the action around them.

“Most children spend seven to nine hours per weekday in school settings,” Kingery-Page said. “Designing schoolyards that are educational, richly experiential, with potentially restorative nature contact for children should be a community concern.”