The perceived effects of visual design and features on students with autism spectrum disorder

Kristi S. Gaines, Zane Curry, Jo Ann Shroyer, Cherif Amor, Robin H. Lock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


The challenge of providing learner-centered environments is complicated by the increase in the prevalence of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The majority of children with ASD have hypersensitivities with heightened senses. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the design of built learning environments and the behavior of students with ASD. We used a mixed-method approach that included a focus group (n = 11) and a questionnaire directed at special-education teachers (n = 604). We identified sensory triggers that have a negative impact on the behavior of students with ASD. The main visual triggers we found were visual changes in the environment/distraction, undefined space, and sources of light. We found that keeping the classroom neat and orderly and reducing moving stimuli reduced behavioral problems. This study provides groundbreaking information regarding the design of the built environment and its impact on students with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-298
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Architectural and Planning Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies

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