Guidelines for design of learning environments for children on the Autistic Spectrum
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There is a lack of reliable and comprehensive guidelines in the area of the design of learning environments (LE) for persons on the Autistic Spectrum (AS) (e.g., see Kanakri, 2012; McAllister & Maguire, 2012). In addition, there is no appropriate model for knowledge translation that can resolve the gap of knowledge between psychological evidence and design implications. These factors have often led to arbitrary and intuitive designs of LE that do not always accommodate the special behavioral and cognitive needs of persons on the AS. In order to address these problems, the author undertook this thesis. The focus of this research will be upon educational settings for higher functioning ASD elementary-aged students. The primary objectives of the thesis are the following: 1. To decrease the knowledge gap between empirical studies of physical and psychological aspects of ASD experiences and design implications for more appropriate learning settings. 2. To produce the design guidelines based on scientific knowledge. The method of inquiry is translational research implemented by systematic transfer of empirical knowledge from the domain of cognitive and clinical psychologies into the domain of design (see Woolf, 2008 for review of a concept of translational research). The expected outcomes are: 1. A reduction in the knowledge gap between empirical research and design. 2. Guidelines for designers based on the knowledge translation activity. Prospects for the future work: 1. Refining the process for knowledge translation. 2. Application of the same approach to design of a whole school setting. 3. Further exploration of neuroscience and psychology/sociology as potential providers of knowledge for design. 4. Addressing new research questions. 5. Continuing to address the knowledge gap between scientific evidence and design in other relevant settings (e.g., residential or healthcare environments).