Youth who suffer from mental health are at a risk of social isolation and stigmatization. These children are neglected or hidden from public eye. The challenge is to understand as how can we help them to create spaces which could be comfortable for them and how can we understand the problems and challenges faced by such people. Disability is a consequence of an impairment that can be physical , mental , sensory , emotional or combination of these. It affects day to day activities of person suffering from disability. Special users have impact on their behavior due to change in the environment and space. For example, even a small change in arrangement of furniture changes the environment in the given space.
People with mental disorders have particular ways of perceiving reality and thus have different behavioural, social and physical needs. I have a close association with my sister who is mentally challenged and hence the observations are evident from my personal experience and also have led me to understand the sense of curiosity, their living and work spaces further. These learning experiences have shed light for me on the struggles youth with mental illness face as they try to fit in society. The paper aims at addressing the factors and principles in human life and its effect on mentally challenged people. The aspects are: Stimulating Environment, Legible Space, Coherence, Control, Restorative qualities of space. These qualities are the findings from a research paper which are observed and studied carefully and in detail. Mentally challenged users can be classifies as users facing problems such as Autism, Schizophrenia, Epilepsy. The prime participants for this research were users with problems having Autism and the Schizophrenia. I chose these users with specific problems as I had the opportunity to observe the special users having Autism and schizophrenia, the way they use their space and experience it. A brief information of what autism and schizophrenia are:
Autism is characterized by impaired development in areas of social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviour, in addition to a keen sensitivity to touch, sight, loud noises and certain smells and tastes (Wood, 2003). They are obsessed with order and need to control their environment in an attempt to understand it and make it predictable and consistent. Many people with autism can learn and develop new skills through repetition, and can therefore be trained to work and participate in the community (National Institute of Mental Health, 2003).
Schizophrenia is characterized as having delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (distorted visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory perceptions), disorganized speech and behaviour, and/or lack of motivation and emotional expression (Wood, 2003). Schizophrenia usually starts in adolescence or adulthood, and is marked by social withdrawal, impaired functioning, and confusion. There is no cure for schizophrenia, however symptoms can be treated and the person can function in society.
Efforts are being made in the education sector to make provisions for facility clients. The concept of inclusive education is being introduced to bring about parity between students. However, inclusive education puts both of them in the same environment which does not facilitate quality education and understanding for the facility clients. Hence, there is a need for suitable environment which is provided at a few schools specially for these children. In the research conducted, Savali –A shelter for care, Prism Foundation, Kamayani School for Mentally Handicapped, these schools have been studied which have such a character and are pioneering suitable environments for education of mentally retarded children. This inter relation between the user and the space has been explored further in the paper based on research conducted by Ayman Makki called as ‘Healing Architecture’ and by live case studies conducted in various schools.
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