This post has been delayed for too long!
With the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders on the rise, (it is now estimated that autism affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys according to the United States Center for Disease Control) more museums are receiving requests from families with autism, looking to plan family activities that are appropriate and comfortable for their children. This is an audience that can truly benefit from the informal learning setting that a museum offers. Multiple points of entry into the topic of an exhibition help those who learn differently still enjoy and learn during their visit. Museums are already set up to help visitors learn in many ways, but how can they better physically accommodate this group? Physical accommodations can add to, and enhance, programming within museums and add another layer to the experience that families have. By looking at both sensory and developmental needs, museums can address the needs of this audience in a thoughtful, effective manner by providing opportunities for adaptable experiences and interactions.
This work was completed in satisfaction of thesis requirements for the Master of Fine Arts degree in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. A look at how museum exhibitions can incorporate different design principles to better include audiences with autism. (c) 2012 Megan MacNeill