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Disability Scoop: "As more students with needs enter school systems nationwide..."

Oct 4, 2018, Disability Scoop: Sensory-Friendly Design Enters The Classroom As more students with special needs enter school systems nationwide, educators are increasingly designing their classrooms to boost behavior and academic performance. Sensory-friendly design focuses on controlling the sights, sounds and smells that can be under- or overstimulating to students with autism or other developmental disabilities. A few schools have been built for this purpose, but any classroom can be retrofitted to improve its sensory environment, experts say…. Several newly-built schools in Minnesota’s Northeast Metro Intermediate District 916 set the gold standard for sensory-friendly design. At the elementary and high schools outside St. Paul, architects and designers worked with teachers to create a healthy environment for students with special needs…. At the district’s Karner Blue and Pankalo education centers, which opened in 2014 and 2017 respectively for kindergarten through eighth grade students in special education, hallways are shortened and curved to discourage running. Venting ducts run through the hallway ceilings instead of in classrooms and are larger than average to help diffuse the force of air and potential noise. There are breakout rooms for one-on-one therapy sessions or quiet reflection…. Some students dislike large open spaces while others don’t want to feel closed in. Schools can “layer” their spaces by placing furniture and panels to section off larger spaces, Kuehl indicated….

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