Designing for Autism: The Sensory Wellbeing Hub Research Study

People with developmental disabilities process sensory stimuli in unique ways. School environments have high sensory stimulation, which can greatly impact diverse learners' classroom experiences—particularly learners with autism spectrum disorders.

The Sensory Wellbeing Hub project tested various sensory theories in diverse learner classrooms at a Chicago public high school. The hub's free-standing solution has active, respite, and sensory cocoon zones with a wide range of artifacts to address student needs.

This session will present the methods used through an iterative design research process and will offer you the opportunity to examine findings and consider their implications.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the characteristics of developmental disorders, like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and how they affect these individuals’ perceptions of space and daily life. Understand the day to day sensory triggers that prove challenging for individuals with ASD and how these perceptions differ from the neuro-typical population.
  2. Learn what varied theories and solutions have been posed to attend to the spatial and sensory needs of developmentally diverse individuals. Experts often offer contradictory advise on how to design sensory rooms. Understand what successes and improvements we can learn from early generation sensory spacesadad
  3. Learn from a controlled research study testing the efficacy of various sensory space solutions. Identify which sensory interventions were the most utilized and under what circumstances.
  4. Consider real-world applications for designing sensory sensitive spaces for multiple market sectors.