Color application for very color-sensitive pupils

Color application for very color-sensitive pupils

Recommendation 117
Establish a very balanced color scheme with minimal contrasts and without vivid and glaring colors

Chapter (theme)
Interior design (color)

Because of
strong sensory hypersensitivity (for color), Central coherence and Cognitive shifting

In order to
avoid sensory overload and confusion and to promote concentration.

In the theme ‘color’ the rule of thumb is mentioned that hypersensitivity to colors generally increases along with the seriousness of the autism. This recommendation is aimed at schools and school classes for students at the ‘serious’ end of the spectrum who require more far-reaching measures.
Less far-reaching measures are proposed in recommendation 116. They are: application of soft, muted colors and/or pastels and to avoid vividly glaring colors. Colors at the ‘cool’ end of the color-spectrum are advisable that is to say green, blue and white, while red and yellow, at the ‘warm’ end are discouraged.

Further-reaching measures can also be proposed; one can implement a ‘more of the same’ action or one might need to implement actions aimed at students for whom collective (i.e. pertaining to the whole school or class) measures will backfire.

“More of the same” is simply toning down: more softness, more muted colors and pastels and an extreme reduction of contrast and reflection. The exclusive use of matte colors is to be preferred.
Reduction of contrast can be achieved by strongly limiting the number of colors, preferably to white, soft blue and soft green or to two (and in extreme cases just one) of these colors. Door- and window frames should have the same color as the doors and the walls. The color of furniture and other inventory should only marginally differ in color from the surrounding and floor colors.
The recommendation elsewhere to keep cupboards closed and to avoid clutter, also works to keep objects of possibly disturbing colors out of sight.

Towards the end of the theme ‘color’ the remark is made that some cognitive problems such as inflexibility and fragmented perception are exacerbated in surroundings with adjacent changing colors. An added advantage of the simplification of the color image is that such problems are lessened as well.

As the color image in and around the classroom becomes more uniform, the problems of the individual student who reacts differently to colors than his or her peers, becomes more pressing. That is, for instance the case when someone has an overpowering aversion towards certain colors which are advised above. (The same may be true for contrasts, glare and reflection.) If these are temporary and infrequent aversions, a time-out space with appropriate colors, may be a solution. In case it’s a permanent repulsion then individual solutions can be found such as wearing colored glasses (which lay outside the reach of this website; information about such devices is easy to find).