A Sensory Integration: Interior Design for Autism in Art Therapy Centers
Anderson, Kacie Logan
Savannah, Georgia: Savannah College of Art and Design
Thesis (M.F.A.) -- Interior Design
Savannah College of Art and Design -- Department of Interior Design
Bibliography: pages 49-52
"Currently, 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism in the United States. This is a 15% increase since 2014. This rapid increase has spiked a rise in facilities treating these children. With the need for designers to design for not just neurotypical children in the built environment, but also for autistic children, the push to design, spaces for both types of children has risen as well. Research has shown that there are some current guidelines for designing a space with autism in mind. However, there are these guidelines do not adequately address the issues of sensory stimulation in the built environment. Sensory stimulation happens when one or more of the bodies senses is activated to engage with the surrounding environment. This thesis is meant to explore the integration of sensory design into current art therapy centers so children with autism will have a place they can feel comfortable and want to return to without apprehension. Art therapy makes sensory regulation less stressful for the child by offering a way for autistic children to learn information in an unconventional, nonverbal, comprehensive, and expressive way using a variety of art materials to have a rich sensory experience. Art therapy and sensory stimulation incorporate the visual, tactile, and auditory senses. This is not always done with conventional art supplies, it is also achieved by using the built environment with techniques such as light play with shadows using natural and artificial light, or sound play with musical instruments, objects, or verbal using reflective and absorbent surfaces. Surveys and interviews revealed that more autistic-friendly spaces among the neurotypical world are desired. It is proposed that by creating a space that controls sensory stimulation, ways of understanding the unknown, and a space that is more autistic-friendly could increase the number of autistic children going to and benefiting from art therapy. The implementation of these research findings can help an autistic child to establish a sense of belongingness and identify art therapy centers as their own safe space."
*Keywords: art therapy, sensory stimulation, integration, autism, sensory design, safe space
CHAIR: Hansen, Ryan
Gonano, Christina A.
PDF : 77 pages, color illustrations, plans