The effects of environmental noise on the behavior of children with autism spectrum disorders

Kristi Gaines, Sherry Sancibrian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A high percentage of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience auditory sensory dysfunction (Freed & Parsons, 1997; Grandin, 1995; Quill, 1995). This exploratory study was directed toward identifying (1) whether the design of the auditory environment affects the behavior of students with autism spectrum disorders, (2) auditory triggers in the learning environment for students with ASD, and (3) auditory design features of the built environment that decrease undesirable behavior. A focus group and questionnaire were utilized to achieve these objectives. Noise within the physical environment was found to have an effect on behavior and learning for children with ASD. Sudden unexpected sound and higher pitched sounds were found to be the main sound triggers. Auditory design recommendations included the use of music, spatial organization, technology, and building materials within the physical environment. This study presents a line of inquiry that is virtually untapped in the field of educational design and warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • Auditory
  • Autism
  • Educational Design
  • Environmental Design


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