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

ism, including:

  • A music garden where children can play with outdoor musical instruments to help with sensory aspects.

  • An edible garden/greenhouse that allows hands-on interaction with nature and opportunities for horticulture therapy.

  • A sensory playground, which uses different panels to help children build tolerances to difference sensory stimulation.

  • A butterfly garden to encourage nature-oriented learning in a quiet place.

  • A variety of alcoves, which provide children with a place to get away when they feel overwhelmed and want to regain control.

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.

"It is important to make the children feel included in the schoolyard without being overwhelmed," King said. "It helps if they have a place -- such as a hill or an alcove -- where they can step away from it and then rejoin the activity when they are ready.

King and Kingery-Page see the benefits of this type of schoolyard as an enriching learning environment for all children because it involves building sensory experience and communication.

"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."

The researchers collaborated with Jessica Wilkinson, a special education teacher who works with children with autism. King designed her schoolyard around Amanda Arnold Elementary School, which is the Manhattan school district's magnet school for children with autism.

"Although there are no current plans to
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Contact: Katie Kingery-Page
kkp@k-state.edu
785-532-5371
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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