‘Sensory suite’ or other safe place in school

‘Sensory suite’ or other safe place in school

Recommendation 57
In schools where treatment and education are more or less integrated: create a ‘sensory suite’;
For (more or less) regular schools: designate a safe place (i.e. a classroom) where students can stay in the time outside formal lessons

Chapter (theme)
Architectural spaces (time-out spaces)

Because of
sensory sensitivity, regulation difficulties: passion, emotions, behavior

In order to
prevent or reduce sensory and social over- (or under-)stimulation; prevent bullying.

In describing ‘time-out spaces’, various places were sketched out where people on the spectrum can retreat and those authors from ‘the core literature’ who mention their own variation of an ideal space were cited.
Whitehurst‘s ‘sensory suite’ is notable: she describes a flexible all-white space which, by means of sound equipment, can be turned into a stimulating or a calming environment. At the ‘Sunfield school’, each of the two wings has a ‘sensory suite’; one stimulating and the other restful.
For understandable reasons, in design the emphasis is usually on stimuli-reduction in order to cater for the over-sensitive. This notwithstanding the fact that the under-sensitive, so with high sensory thresholds, are just as prevalent (see here ) and therefore require the necessary attention as well.

Bullying of autistic children in schools is very widespread and is a serious problem with a great impact on personal and social development. (See here.) Children on the spectrum especially run the risk of being bullied outside formal lessons. The recommendation, therefore, is to provide a guaranteed safe place which one may call a ‘refuge room’ for those periods. A classroom which is not in use for lessons may be designated as such. It can also be used during lunch time as an alternative to the school cafeteria. At least two conditions have to be fulfilled. One is proper adult supervision at all times ensuring safety. The other: the space needs to be clearly dedicated for the sole purpose of ‘refuge’. It is important that students will not have to search for a refuge room due to its varying location or an unexpected repurposing.


See the ‘core literature’; a PDF of one of her articles can be downloaded here.