Markers of Sensory Well-Being in the Learning Environment for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders


The article describes the results of interdisciplinary research focusing on the concept of “sensory well-being” and its application to construct sensory-friendly learning environments. The article analyzes the relationship between sensory characteristics of a learning environment and its impact on children’s well-being and progress. It is shown that the current standards for learning environments in Russian schools fail to meet the sensory needs of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The study relies on the case study method to compare the sensory needs a student with ASD and the characteristics of the classroom environment where she studies. The assessment encompasses auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive modalities. Based on the data obtained, the authors formulate a set of markers that can be used to build a sensory-friendly learning environment. These markers can be used by specialists when designing new or renovating the already existing environments at schools and other educational institutions.

Author Biographies

Lyudmila V. Tokarskaya, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Lyudmila V. Tokarskaya, Candidate of Sciences (Psychology), Associate Professor, Ural Institute of Humanities at the Ural Federal University. Her research interests are special psychology, organization of psychological help, psychological help for children with autism spectrum, mental retardation and their families, psychology of leadership and self-development.

Tatyana Yu. Bystrova, Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Tatyana Yu. Bystrova, Doctor of Science (Philosophy), Professor, Ural Institute of Humanities at the Ural Federal University. Her research interests are the theory of design and architecture, philosophy of culture, aesthetics, theory and practice in communications, imagology.


  • Alexander, Ch. (1979). The timeless way of building. Oxford University Press.

  • Alisov, E. A. (2009). Psikhologo-pedagogicheskie aspekty sensornogo mirovospriiatiia lichnosti [Psychological-pedagogical aspects of human world perception]. Psychological-Educational Studies, 1(1).

  • Autizm. Druzheliubnaia sreda: Kak adaptirovat’ prostranstvo muzeia dlia liudei s autizmom i ikh semei [Autism. Friendly environment: How to adapt the museum space to the needs of people with autism and their families]. (2016). Fond sodeistviia resheniiu problem autizma “Vykhod”.

  • Ayres, A. J. (2005). Sensory integration and the child (25th anniversary ed.). Western Psychological Services.

  • Bundy, A. C., & Lane, S. J. (2020). Sensory integration: Theory and practice (3rd ed.). F. A. Davis Company.

  • Bystrova, T. Yu., & Tokarskaya, L. V. (2022). Inkliuzivnyi dizain razvivaiushchikh igrushek: Opyt realizatsii podkhoda [Inclusive design of educational toys: Experience in implementing the approach]. Akademicheskij vestnik URALNIIPROEKT RAASN, 1, 78–83.

  • Bystrova, T. Yu, Tokarskaya, L. V., & Vukovic, D. B. (2019). Optimum virtual environment for solving cognitive tasks by individuals with autism spectrum disorders: The questions and methods of design. International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education, 7(1), 63–72.

  • Fernández-Andrés, M. I., Pastor-Cerezuela, G., Sanz-Cervera, P., & Tárraga-Mínguez, R. (2015). A comparative study of sensory processing in children with and without autism spectrum disorder in the home and classroom environments. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 38, 202–212.

  • Freud, S. (1990). Jokes and their relation to the unconscious (J. Strachey, Trans.). Norton. (Originally published in German 1905)

  • Frumkin, H. (2003). Healthy places: Exploring the evidence. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1451–1456.

  • Gentil-Gutiérrez, A., Cuesta-Gómez, J. L., Rodríguez-Fernández, P., & González-Bernal, J. J. (2021). Implication of the sensory environment in children with autism spectrum disorder: Perspectives from school. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(14), Article 7670.

  • Gutnov, A. E., & Glazychev, V. L. (1990). Mir arkhitektury: Litso goroda [The world of architecture: The face of the city]. Molodaya gvardiya.

  • Haigh, J., & Mytton, C. (2016). Sensory interventions to support the well-being of people with dementia: A critical review. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(2), 120–126.

  • Happé, F. (1994). Autism: An introduction to psychological theory (1st ed.). Psychology Press.

  • Heath, O., Jackson, V., & Goode, E. (2021). Creating positive spaces by designing for cognitive and sensory well-being. Interface.

  • Hoskin, E., Singh, A., Oddy, N., Jessup Schneider, A. L., Trepanier, G., Trudel, Ch., & Girouard, A. (2020). Assessing the experience of people with autism at the Canada science and technology museum. In CHI EA ’20: Extended Abstracts of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Honolulu, USA, April 25–30, 2020 (pp. 1–7). Association for Computing Machinery.

  • Ikonnikov, A. V. (1979). Arkhitekturnyi ansambl’ [Architectural ensemble]. Znanie.

  • Kaganov, G. Z. (1999). Obrazy gorodskoi sredy v massovom soznanii i v iskusstve [Representations of the urban environment in mass consciousness and art] (Unpublished doctoral dissertation abstract). Nauchno-issledovatel’skii institut teorii arkhitektury i gradostroitel’stva.

  • Keeling, T., Clements-Croome, D., Luck, R., & Pointer, Ph. (2012). A review of how sensory design can influence well-being and productivity. In Proceedings of the CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium, Imperial College, London, UK, April 18–19, 2012.

  • Khaustov, A. V. (2009). Organizatsiia okruzhaiushchei sredy dlia sotsializatsii i razvitiia kommunikatsii u detei s rasstroistvami autisticheskogo spektra [Organization of the environment for socialization and development of communication skills of children with autistic spectrum disorders]. Autizm i narusheniia razvitiia, 7(1), 1–12.

  • Kim, Y. S., Leventhal, B. L., Koh, Y.-J., Fombonne, E., Laska, E., Lim, E.-C., Cheon, K.-A., Kim, S.-J., Kim, Y.-K., Lee, H. K., Song, D.-H., & Grinker, R. R. (2011). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in a total population sample. American Journal of Psychiatry, 168(9), 904–912.

  • Koolhaas, R. (1995). Bigness, or the problem of Large. In J. Sigler (Ed.), S, M, L, XL: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large. The Monacelli Press.

  • Kranowitz, C. S. (2005). The out-of-sync child: Recognizing and coping with sensory processing disorder. Skylight Press.

  • Magkafa, D. (2022). Exploring the design, development and evaluation of an app for autistic children in a museum setting [Doctoral dissertation, University of the West of England]. University of West of England. EThOS.

  • Marker. (n.d.). In SLOVARonline.

  • Mehaffi, M. (2022, March 22). Why Christopher Alexander still matters. Planetizen.

  • Montesorri, M. (2009). The Montessori method. Wilder Publications.

  • Morozov, S. A. (2014). Osnovy diagnostiki i korrektsii rasstroistv autisticheskogo spektra [Basics of diagnostics and intervention for autism spectrum disorders]. Dobryj vek.

  • Nanda, U., Adams, L., & Hoelting, M. (2019, April 29). Sensory well-being for adolescents with developmental disabilities: Creating (and testing) a sensory wellbeing hub. HKS.

  • Neliubin, L. L. (2003). Tolkovyi perevodovedcheskii slovar’ [Explanatory translation dictionary]. Nauka.

  • Novoselova, S. L. (2001). Razvivaiushchaia predmetnaia sreda [Conducive learning environment]. Tsentr “Doshkol’noe detstvo”.

  • O sotsial’noi zashchite invalidov v Rossiiskoi Federatsii [On social protection of persons with disabilities in the Russian Federation]. Federal Law of the Russian Federation No. 181-FZ. (1995, November 24).

  • Peeters, T. (1997). Autism: From theoretical understanding to educational intervention. Wiley.

  • Postanovlenie Glavnogo gosudarstvennogo sanitarnogo vracha Rossiiskoi Federatsii № 28 [Decree of the Chief Public Health Officer of the Russian Federation No. 28]. (2020, September 28).

  • Primernaia adaptirovannaia osnovnaia obshcheobrazovatel’naia programma nachal’nogo obshchego obrazovaniia obuchaiushchikhsia s rasstroistvami autisticheskogo spektra [Sample adapted basic general education program of primary general education for students with autism spectrum disorders]. (2015).

  • Rubtsova, O. B. (2013). Sredovoi podkhod k postroeniiu vospitatel’nogo protsessa professional’nogo litseia [Environment-focused approach to constructing of the learning process in a professional lyceum] (Unpublished master’s thesis). Vysshaia shkola narodnykh iskusstv (institut).

  • Ryff, C. D. (1996). Psychological well-being. In J. E. Birren (Ed.), Encyclopedia of gerontology: age, aging, and the aged (Vol. 2). Academic Press.

  • Salingaros, N. A. (2014). Twelve lectures on architecture: Algorithmic sustainable design. Sustasis Press.

  • Steinberg, A. S., Voskov, A. L., & Klevtsova, E. M. (2022). Sotsiokul’turnaia integratsiia vzroslykh liudei s autizmom v ramkakh proekta “12MM!” [Sociocultural integration of adults with autism in the “12MM!” project]. Autizm i narusheniia razvitiia, 20(2), 36–42.

  • Symaniuk, E. E. (2005). Psikhologicheskaia bezopasnost’ obrazovatel’noi sredy [Psychological safety of the learning environment]. Ural State University.

  • Tatarchenko, A. V. (2018). Sredovoi podkhod v formirovanii arkhitektury tsentra Moskvy (kontse XX – nachale XXI v.) [Environment-focused approach to the formation of architecture in the centre of Moscow (late 20th–early 21st century)] (Scientific report on the main results of the thesis). Moscow Institute of Architecture.

  • Tokarev, N. (2020, March 30). Arkhitektura priamogo deistviia [Direct action architecture]. Proekt Rossiia.

  • Turley, L. W., & Milliman, R. E. (2000). Atmospheric effects on shopping behavior: A review of the experimental evidence. Journal of Business Research, 49(2), 193–211.

  • Uchenye vyiasnili, kak kletki mozga vydeliaiut gormon udovol’stviia [Scientists have found out how brain cells release the hormone of pleasure]. (2022, February 15). RIA Novosti.

  • Wagenfeld, A., Sotelo, M., & Kamp, D. (2019). Designing an impactful sensory garden for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder. Children, Youth and Environments, 29(1), 137–152.

  • Wilbarger, J., & Wilbarger, P. (2002). Clinical application of the sensory diet. In A. C. Bundy, S. J. Lane & E. A. Murray (Eds.), Sensory integration: Theory and practice (2nd ed., pp. 339–341). F.A. Davis.

  • Zabel’shanskii, G. B., Minervin, G. B., Rappaport, A. G., & Somov, G. Iu. (1985). Arkhitektura i emotsional’nyi mir cheloveka [Architecture and the emotional world of man]. Stroiizdat.

  • Zhmurov, V. A. (2012). Bol’shaia entsiklopediia po psikhiatrii [Great encyclopedia of psychiatry] (2nd ed.). Dzhangar.

How to Cite
Tokarskaya, L., & Bystrova, T. (2023). Markers of Sensory Well-Being in the Learning Environment for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Changing Societies & Personalities, 7(1), 149–172. doi:10.15826/csp.2023.7.1.223