Location

Guzman 110

Start Date

4-19-2018 4:20 PM

End Date

4-19-2018 4:35 PM

Department

Education

Student Type

Graduate

Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Lucko, Ph.D.

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

This research was carried out to determine the impact of a natural learning environment on the social/emotional development of students with Autism and/or Sensory Processing Disorder. For the sake of this research, social/emotional development consisted of social behavior, communication, and participation/engagement. A review of the literature revealed that students with sensory processing issues have difficulty processing stimuli which are unnatural and intensified. The acoustics and set-up of a traditional classroom are characterized by confinement, harsh lighting/volume conditions, and other habitual triggers for sensory discomfort. The natural learning environment can provide students with natural stimuli, fresh air, natural acoustics, natural lighting, etc. Additionally, the natural learning environment fosters a connection with nature, which research shows is important for the self-discovery, self-advocacy, and self-efficacy of all humans. Considering the historically unfriendly nature of the traditional classroom and the benefits nature exposure for children, the researcher challenges the notion of Least Restrictive Environment for this population of students.

Prior research regarding natural learning environments has been predominately carried out among neuro-typical populations and little attention has been paid to the impact these environments have on students with sensory challenges. This study involved taking a group of 7 students with Autism and/or sensory processing challenges into natural learning environments twice weekly over four weeks to engage in academic/social learning. Data was collected through questionnaires, observations, and field notes. Results identified that the natural learning environment was conducive to increased sensory regulation, a less restrictive environment, and a greater sense of self-advocacy and efficacy from a connection with nature.

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Apr 19th, 4:20 PM Apr 19th, 4:35 PM

Fertile Ground: The Impact of the Natural Learning Environment on the Social/Emotional Development of Students with Autism and/or Sensory Processing Disorder

Guzman 110

This research was carried out to determine the impact of a natural learning environment on the social/emotional development of students with Autism and/or Sensory Processing Disorder. For the sake of this research, social/emotional development consisted of social behavior, communication, and participation/engagement. A review of the literature revealed that students with sensory processing issues have difficulty processing stimuli which are unnatural and intensified. The acoustics and set-up of a traditional classroom are characterized by confinement, harsh lighting/volume conditions, and other habitual triggers for sensory discomfort. The natural learning environment can provide students with natural stimuli, fresh air, natural acoustics, natural lighting, etc. Additionally, the natural learning environment fosters a connection with nature, which research shows is important for the self-discovery, self-advocacy, and self-efficacy of all humans. Considering the historically unfriendly nature of the traditional classroom and the benefits nature exposure for children, the researcher challenges the notion of Least Restrictive Environment for this population of students.

Prior research regarding natural learning environments has been predominately carried out among neuro-typical populations and little attention has been paid to the impact these environments have on students with sensory challenges. This study involved taking a group of 7 students with Autism and/or sensory processing challenges into natural learning environments twice weekly over four weeks to engage in academic/social learning. Data was collected through questionnaires, observations, and field notes. Results identified that the natural learning environment was conducive to increased sensory regulation, a less restrictive environment, and a greater sense of self-advocacy and efficacy from a connection with nature.