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Current Action Research Projects
Action research plays a major role in the work we undertake as Kingwood strives to gain a deeper understanding of autism and the impact this has on the lives of individuals concerned, particularly with regard to sense and perception. This new understanding is then used to inform how we deliver our services. Our current action research programme includes the following projects:
In partnership with the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art
Autism and Design Housing
Since 2009 Kingwood has worked with the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art to explore the way in which housing is designed and how this impacts on the lives of people with autism and Asperger’s. Results from the first phase of the study led to the successful joint publication of the book ‘Living in the Community – Housing Design for Adults with Autism.’ This year we have been focusing on how people with autism interact with an environment that has been specifically adapted and furnished to take account of their individual sensory issues. We have then gone on to begin assessing whether these adaptations have minimised stress and anxiety triggers for each of the individuals involved in the project and moreover, whether through appropriately structured stimulation within these new environments opportunities can be developed for each person to develop new skills. Further information from this study will be available towards the end of the year.
Autism and Sensory Preference
Exploring Sensory Preferences – Living Environments for Adults with Autism is the second publication in the series following ‘Housing Design for Adults with Autism’ produced by Kingwood and the Helen Hamlyn Centre.
The publication describes a design research project aimed at developing ways to support adults with Autism to better manage relationships with their home environments and other people by creating living accommodation that is more sensitive to their sensory needs.
The publication draws findings from the published guide into making sensory props (Ready Steady Make) and the associated staff development workshops for support workers which promotes the development of skills in understanding sensory challenges and making sensory props.
‘A well-designed garden can enhance focus and attention, and reduce anxiety, thereby improving quality of life’
‘Green spaces’ is the third publication in the series which explores outdoor environments for adults with Autism. The publication describes how design can create beneficial green spaces benefitting those that use them.
The researchers involved visited and consulted with specialists in sensory gardens and therapeutic gardens, in horticulture and occupational therapy. Additionally they spent time with the people kingwood supports and their families.
The findings presented in this publication draws upon our previous research into the built environment and practical experience to expand upon way in which outdoor design can improve the lives of the people we support.
For more information on these publications please visit www.hhc.rca.ac.uk.
In partnership with Bangor University
Active Support is a method of supporting someone with a learning disability to take part in everyday activities and relationships. It is a philosophy of care, a set of procedures and a collection of working methods.
A provisional analysis of outcomes after implementing active support with persons diagnosed with autism.
The following document produced by Dr Sandy Toogood provides a summary of a preliminary analysis into data extracted from active support records on (a) participation in activity, (b) presence in the community, and (c) challenging behaviour. The data was taken from the records of three people supported by Kingwood and was first made available in March 2012.
To read the document please click here.
Pending Current Action Research Projects
Additional projects are currently under way and will be published in due course. A summary of each project is provided below.
Personal Safety and Autism
Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Autism Cymru and the Kingwood Trust wish to develop specific personal safety guidance for people with autism. Through their extensive work with people with autism, Autism Cymru and the Kingwood Trust have identified that this group of people is particularly vulnerable and their personal safety can be easily compromised due to their condition.
“Many people with Asperger Syndrome can be oblivious to dangers that lurk in every community and must be trained to avoid dangerous situations where possible and cope with them when necessary” Petersilia. (2001); Debbaudt, D. and Coles, W. (2004)
Initial research of the literature in the field has identified that there is little advice and guidance, or training materials available focused and geared specifically to the needs of this group of people in relation to personal safety. In addition there is little public awareness of their vulnerabilities, and how the general public or public bodies can assist.
Initial discussions with people with autism, their families and service providers have identified a number of areas of particular concern:
1. Safety in public places and social situations
2. Use of computers
3. Criminal justice system
Our aim is to develop a UK wide awareness campaign of autism and personal safety, informed by the development of advice and training materials specifically tailored to the needs and vulnerabilities of people with autism, once funding has been obtained.
Autism and Faith
Attitudes towards people with autism are a major concern to organisations such as the Kingwood Trust, which seek to provide an environment in which people with autism can lead fulfilling lives. The attitude of faith groups is important for people for whom religion is an important part of their lives.
There is recent evidence reported to Kingwood of bigotry and discrimination from some faith groups. This discrimination has involved people with autism being excluded from normal participation in the activities of those faith groups.
Attitudes towards people with autism are a major concern to organisations such as the Kingwood Trust and Style Acre which seek to provide an environment in which people with autism can lead normal and fulfilling lives. The attitude of faith groups is important for people for whom religion is an important part of their lives.
One of the people we work with has recently experienced bigotry and discrimination from a particular faith group. This has involved her being excluded from normal participation in the activities of that faith group.
Kingwood has commenced a piece of work to explore the attitudes of the main faith groups in the Thames Valley area, and how those views manifest themselves in practice at the grass roots level.
Noise Filtration and Sensitivity
Kingwood has commenced a research project on sound sensitivity in autism with Brunel and Cardiff Universities following having won funding from the US autism research charity Autism Speaks. The project is aimed at first understanding what sort of sounds people with autism find challenging and then exploring whether new sound technologies can be used to block these sounds out on a selective basis. The project will take approximately a year to complete.
Only some of those supported by Kingwood have sound sensitivities severe enough to interfere with everyday life and it is this group that will be invited to take an active part in this project. Research ethics approval has been obtained for the work to ensure the interests of the people taking part are central to the work.