Pauli, Diana Mary (2004)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This is a case study of the role of feeling and will in interaction with children with autism. It investigates the use of changing colours of light for enhancement of engagement at this level. The research was carried out in a specially designed room where the whole interior colour could be changed using dimmer-controlled lights. 19 children aged between 8 and 17 years with a diagnosis of severe autism were involved in the study. Data were collected using video recordings, a research diary and small-scale informal interviews and were analysed by quantitative and qualitative methods. Three main stages were developed. These involved observations of behaviour of children in different colours of light, of children interacting directly with changing coloured light, and of intensive interaction augmented by changing colour moods. The main findings were that colour could affect behaviour and that in general reds were more arousing than blues and greens. Some children engaged readily in interaction with changing coloured lights, though many did not. When changing colour was used in conjunction with intentional creation of affect by an adult during intensive interaction, improvements in social engagement and communication skills were observed.
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