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A place to play: Researcher designs schoolyard for children with autism
Date:5/7/2012

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- 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.

"My main goal was to provide different opportunities for children with autism to be able to interact in their environment without being segregated from the rest of the school," King said. "I didn't want that separation to occur."

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.

"The biggest issue with traditional schoolyards is that they are completely open but also busy and crowded in specific areas," King said. "This can be too overstimulating for a person with autism."

King researched ways that she could create an environment where children with autism would be able to interact with their surroundings and their peers, but where they could also get away from overstimulation until they felt more comfortable and could re-enter the activities.

"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 designed her schoolyard with both traditional aspects -- such as a central play area -- and additional elements that would appeal to children with aut
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Contact: Katie Kingery-Page
kkp@k-state.edu
785-532-5371
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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