As our school systems have begun to require green certification levels for new school buildings, our designers and educators need to understand the positive benefits of these “green” design decisions on our children with special needs. Further, in renovation projects associated with our existing special needs environments, we need to advocate for the implementation of green improvements for reasons that go beyond saving the planet. These improvements can aid these children with their abilities to learn, and provide better sustainability to our school buildings. The full article is available on School Planning and Management.
There are several design strategies that can be implemented into K-12 school settings that aid children with special needs to be more successful during their learning years. While there are design guidelines required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) such as ramps, handicapped-accessible bathrooms, and stair railing extensions, there are other non-regulated improvements that greatly increase the ability for children with special needs to learn more successfully.
There is a huge need to provide successfully designed environments for individuals with autism as well as the staff that support them. This opportunity is embraced by Purple Cherry Architects in Annapolis, Md., through their concept of Purpose-Driven Architecture. As firm principal, Cathy Cherry speaks about the design of these buildings and addresses several key issues – personal space requirements, distraction inhibitors, acoustical applications, colors and patterns, time-out rooms, durability of materials, technology enhancements and outdoor spaces.
She states that often “individuals with autism are not aware of the social dance naturally teamed by other typically developing peers. This dance is an instinctual understanding of the necessarily personal space needed between two individuals. A violation of this space can be an invasion of privacy, causing anxiety and conflict.” By understanding the ….