Nature Based Playground, Design for Children with Autism
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Recent studies and research demonstrate the importance of play and play-based learning. There are many articles that have shown that play is an essential component of a child's development. Play-based learning is even more important for children with disabilities. Without play, special needs children may develop learning deficits that complicate the disabilities they are already experiencing. The benefits of play are inextricably related to the environments in which it occurs. Play environments need to be carefully designed to ensure that children are able to realize the full benefits of play. In the United States, public play areas are abundant. However, do these play areas stimulate the development of children? Have they been designed to be inclusive to those with special needs? The need to have play areas that are truly accessible is further amplified by recent statistics, which show that there is an upward trend in the number of U.S. students with disabilities. Consequently, there is a significant need for play spaces that are stimulating and inclusive to children of all abilities. This paper highlights the importance of play, play environments, and disability play. It provides an overview of disabilities in children and their effects on play. It critically examines the current state of play in America. Based on literature review, historical information, and critical analyses of existing play areas, this paper advocate for nature-based playgrounds. Through the design of a play landscape that is nature-based and inclusive to children with Autism, this paper demonstrates significant advantages of nature-based inclusive play space design and advocates for such play spaces over traditional play spaces designed with man-made materials.
General Audience Abstract
Play is often dismissed as something that children engage in when they are young. Play is actually extremely important to a child’s development. Play contributes to physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being of children. This paper highlights the importance of play for all children, including those with disabilities, and underscores the significance of a well-designed play environment in a child’s development. Play areas are abundant in the United States. The goal of this research is to understand whether such play areas are designed to help children realize the full benefits of play, and whether such play areas are inclusive and accessible for children with disabilities. Given the rising prevalence of autism in children, a nature based playground design that is inclusive for children with Autism is presented in this paper. The framework and design considerations presented here can be replicated to any generic play site to create a much more stimulating and inclusive play environment.
- Masters Theses