International Meeting for Autism Research: Sensory Disorders for Individuals with ASD: Preferances for Black Vs White Rooms

Sensory Disorders for Individuals with ASD: Preferances for Black Vs White Rooms

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Franklin Hall B Level 4 (Philadelphia Marriott Downtown)
1:00 PM
M. Boman , Kelly Autism Program, Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
G. R. Mancil , Kentucky Autism Training Center, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Background: Sensory rooms, also referred to as Snoezelen rooms, have been used in many countries such as the Netherlands and Germany with individuals with severe disabilities. These rooms involves exposing individuals with sensory input within a soothing and stimulating environment using a variety of sensory stimuli. Research is limited regarding the use of these rooms, yet many programs have attested to their benefits when provided for individuals with sensory integration and developmental disabilities (Chung & Lai, 2002).

Objectives: This research focused on the outcomes for individuals with ASD who entered the black or white sensory rooms. Did the personality or mood of the individual initiate their choices of which room they entered? Did academic, communication, and social interaction increase from interactions within these settings?

Methods: The population consisted of 50 individuals from the age of 7 through college age, who voluntarily entered the rooms. These individuals were attending an after school program or were part of the college program at Western Kentucky University. They were monitored by the staff before and after they entered the room. The staff completed a questionnaire about antecedent and post behaviors.  For those participants, who were able to answer a questionnaire after they left the room, the forms were made available for them to complete. Documentation was also collected regarding what type of actions the participants were performing while in the rooms (e.g., linear swing, sitting in bean bag, etc.). Heart rates were monitored for these individuals upon entering the room as well as for a five-minute interval after they left the rooms. Also, any changes in behaviors and academic performance were collected using frequency, intensity, and time duration before and after the visits to the rooms. Other variables considered included: age, gender, ability level, and diagnosis. A likert scale was implemented regarding level of changes in attitude, behavior, etc. Data information was collected every time the participants entered the room for a period of two months.

Results: Over 75% of the participants exhibited postive outcomes upon leaving the rooms. This was particularly true of the college aged students who were able to begin their work more quickly after they left the rooms. Academic performance, communication, and behaviors improved as well. Both the black and white rooms had this impact on the participants, but the white room was chosen at a higher frequency than the black room. This also was impacted according to the age and IQ level of the participants.

Conclusions: Snozelean rooms did have an impact on the academic, behavior, and communication output for some of participants diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum who made the choice to enter the rooms. This was evident regardless if the participant had been diagnosed with a Sensory Integration Dysfunction as well as the age and ability levels. For a few individuals, the individual's became aroused to the point that it became difficult to work with the participants.

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