Research by Texas Tech professor shows how classroom environment - FOX34 Lubbock

Research by Texas Tech professor shows how classroom environments can help children with autism

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

A recent CDC report found around 1 in 58 children are affected by ASD, or autism spectrum disorder.

This is a 15 percent increase from two years ago, according to the study.

Kristi Gaines, author of Designing for Autism Spectrum Disorders, said the autism rate for children is hard to quantify and may not capture the true scale of ASD.

"You know, you can have some children that may not be identified as having ASD because they're able to accommodate. It's a spectrum, and so spectrum means some it's going to be very obvious, and others it's not going to be as obvious. It may just look like it's a behavior problem," Gaines said.

Gaines said her research shows several interior design factors in a classroom can help students with autism accommodate. 

"We want to make sure there is proper stimulation and that lighting is appropriate, that color, noise, that's a big one, space organization. All of these are things we want to pay attention to because if we know they're in an environment where they can pay attention, that they're going to learn, then they're going to have a lot better educational outcome," Gaines said.

Gaines said modifying these classrooms at an early age is critical to their long-term development. 

"Early intervention is really important, and we know that if you have early intervention and proper accommodations that the outcome is a lot better," Gaines said.

She added the goal of the book is to debunk the stereotypes attached to the autism spectrum.

"The point is to really get the information out there into the hands of the people that will use it and apply it. The design professionals, the teachers, building contractors, administrators, and people making decisions about the design. And just to be aware that a classroom environment actually does make a difference. It's not just aesthetics and trying to make things look pretty," Gaines said.

Gaines said her next project is related to research on outside learning environments and how it can further aid the classroom experience for all children.

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