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Transformative Teaching

Focus on Pedagogy 2022
Analysis of the Impact of Acoustics on Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in K-12 Learning Environment
M. Lekan-Kehinde & A. Asojo


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that typically causes delayed verbal and social skill, restrictive and repetitive motor movement and has been theorized to occur due to the failure of the “theory of the mind”, “mirror neuron system”, ‘weak central coherence” or imbalances of “empathizing and sympathizing”. As a neurodevelopmental condition which could be complex, multifactorial and pervasive and is widely described under the umbrella term of Neurodiversity. About 30% of the population is currently estimated to be neurodiverse and therefore the design of spaces should adequately accommodate their needs from childhood and helping them integrate into the adult life in the most functional way both socially, economically and environmentally. One of the major factors that contribute to childhood development and how students with autism are able to integrate into life is the quality of their learning and learning spaces that support them. The Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) factors are metrics that has been identified by experts as important to ensure health, wellbeing and comfort within the learning environment. Acoustics is one of the 4 (four) major IEQ factors that affects learning. Acoustics impacts language acquisition, concentration, information retention, and general comfort within the environment and therefore has enormous impacts on students with ASD. However, there has been limited research on this impact on students with ASD. This research uses a methodical analytical approach to understand the experiences, suitability of the current American Standards National Institute (ANSI) acoustic guideline on students with ASD and provide recommendation from industry experts on how to improve the acoustics of learning spaces for students with ASD. The research identified five major themes which includes the Individuality of ASD, expert review of current guidelines, the available solutions used, recommendation for improvements and future study.


Michael is an Interior Design Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota. He has a strong background in Architecture, with a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Architecture from the Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria. He has worked on design projects ranging from Mass Housing Design to Resort design of interesting attractions in Nigeria which provided a creative framework for the application of Organic Architecture to Sustainable Tourism Development. Michael’s research interest is focused on improving the indoor environmental quality of learning spaces and indoor spaces.

Abimbola Asojo is a Professor of Interior Design and Associate Dean for Research, Creative Scholarship and Engagement at the University of Minnesota College of Design. Her research areas are cross-cultural design, lighting design, African architecture, computing and design and K-12 spaces. Asojo was named one of Design Intelligence’s Most Admired Educators in 2010 and 2017.