SPECIAL NEEDS
 
Children are more attuned to the intricacies of the near environment than are adults. In particular, young children from infancy to school age are highly responsive to the enclosed spaces they inhabit. So, the question arises as to how children with different developmental and physical needs react to and adapt to the near environment.

Environmental Factors for Young Children with Disabilities

A child with
developmental needs may benefit from one or more of the following environmental factors depending on the individual needs of
that child:
  • Incandescent or LED lighting in place of fluorescent lighting
  • Ambient background noise
  • Display areas with organized projects for learning
  • Cool environmental accent colors (Violet, Blue, Green)
  • Clear wayfinding techniques through use of signage, color, texture, and form
  • Natural elements
A child with a physical disability that limits his or her maneuverability would benefit from a room that offers easy access to space and materials. The following environmental factors would assist with access:
  • Low horizontal shelving
  • Open space for easy maneuverability
  • Tables and desks at proper height for access
  • Door levers with accessible opening mechanisms
A child with a physical disability that limits his or her vision would benefit from a high contrast of colors and values, materials and forms within a space. The following environmental factors may be beneficial:
  • Reduce glare within the space from interior and exterior lighting and reflections
  • Create value(light/dark) contrast between flooring, wall, and furnishings
  • Create clear pathways with lighting and furnishings

References:

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Barnett, D. W., Bell, S. H., & Carey, K. T. (1999).
Designing preschool interventions.
New York: Guilford.

Gibson, J. J. (1979).
The ecological approach to visual perception. NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum.

Imhof, M. (2004). Effects of color stimulation on handwriting performance of children with ADHD without and with additional learning disabilities.
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 13:191-198.

Iovino, I., Fletcher, J. M., Breitmeyer, B. G., & Foorman, B. R. (1998). Colored overlays for visual perceptual deficits in children with reading disability and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Are they differentially effective?
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 20(6): 791-806.

Mason, D. J., Humphreys, G. W., & Kent, L. S. (2003). Exploring selective attention in ADHD: Visual search through space and time. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44:8, 1158-1176. Mesibov, G. B., & Shea, V. (1996). Full inclusion and students with autism.
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Pocklington, B., & Maubery, M. (2006). Proportional slowing or disinhibition in ADHD? A Brinley plot meta-analysis of Stroop color and word test performance. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 53(1): 67-91.

Quill, K. A. (1997). Instructional considerations for young children with autism: The rationale for visually cued instruction.
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Rogers, S. J. (2000). Interventions that facilitate socialization in children with autism.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30(5): 399-409.

Ruble, L A. (2001). Analysis of social interactions as goal-directed behaviors in children with autism.
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Söderland, G., Sikström, S., & mart, A. (2007). Listen to the noise: Noise is beneficial for cognitive performance in ADHD.
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