Designing for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Dec 9th, 2009

Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are becoming more visible in our communities. Because of growing advocacy for community-living options for adults with neurobiological conditions and because of the aging of their parents in whose homes they live, many are seeking residential opportunities and accommodations outside traditional institutions and the parental home. Architects, housing providers, and developers are being called upon to plan, design, retrofit, and develop homes and residential developments that best fit the needs and aspirations of this new housing consumer.

Research undertaken by faculty and students at the ASU Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, and ASU’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, led to the formulation of evidence-based design goals and guidelines to direct future housing design and development. Based on synthesis of existing research—an inventory profile of over 100 “best practice” residential developments for adults with ASD or other special needs conditions and field research of several case studies—the final report Advancing Full Spectrum Housing: Designing for Adults with Autism Syndrome Disorders introduces housing providers, architects, developers, planners, public officials, and others involved in the residential development industry to conditions and aspirations of adults with ASD that demand a new approach to how we provide, design, and develop homes in which they live.

Directed by ten resident-based design goals, the design guidelines—ranging from neighborhood amenities to technological assistive devices in the home—provide a robust platform that architects, housing providers, families, and residents can use to identify and select design features that best respond to specific needs and aspirations of residents.

A companion report produced by Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and ULI Arizona is entitled Opening Doors: A Discussion of Residential Options for Adults Living With Autism and Related Disorders and can be accessed from the SARRC website.

For further questions about the research, contact Kim Steele at ASU’s School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture, or SherryAhrentzen at ASU Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family.

This research was funded by Urban Land Institute Arizona and Pivotal Foundation.

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