The impact of noise and soundscape on children with autism in schools

The impact of noise and soundscape on children with autism in schools

Health Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings MSc student Alex Mason reviews the impacts of noise and soundscape for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in schools, including design recommendations. It is estimated that for every 100 children in the UK, at least one will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With approximately 71% of these children educated within mainstream schools (1), it is essential that we design inclusive schools as standard to meet the needs of every child requiring education. William Melnick defined ‘noise’ as “the unpleasant sounds which distract the human being physically and physiologically”. Research states that younger children are much more susceptible to poor acoustic conditions than adults, with children in their primary school years experiencing greater detrimental effects of noise and reverberation (2). Noise does not affect all children equally and pupils with autism are often very sensitive to specific types of noise (3). Whilst some children may not be disturbed by a specific noise source, children with autism would cover their ears because the same level of noise is so painful (3). Short-term management of these issues has seen children using ear defenders to avoid distress, something which should not be required in a school […]

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