Studies show that many autistic adults are less likely to live independently regardless of their abilities. This paper summarizes insights into the role of the built environment in the independent living of autistic people. Existing architectural research concerning autism has focused predominantly on the built environment. By contrast, our research focuses on autistics’ lived experience. The role of the built environment in autistic people’s independent living plays at different scales: from a location over the spatial organization to interior finishing and detailing. Additionally, the built environment’s design can facilitate or hamper independent living in various ways, not only through sensory qualities but also through what it affords and what it means.
When being commissioned to design a house for a child with Autism, the proposal went beyond the choice of colours, acoustics, safety or materials. Through a Research of Alicante University with doctors, psychologists and ASD associations, the spaces and their distribution, have been projected following a predictable route, where shortcuts and windows at different orientations help him to take decisions, understand the pass of time and recognize emotions that strengthen social skills. As it happens in his education with pictograms, each room presents the objects in a frontal view, organized from left to right, which makes it easier for him to understand the surrounding. Therefore, the house teaches him skills to order processes, such as taking off his coat and shoes when entering the house.
The paper discusses the typologies of facilities for young and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder within Italian context, the methodology applied by Sapienza University team in this field of research, and in conclusion, it shows a “best practice” to aid the transition of autistic young adults into the labour market. The paper underlines the importance of the research in this specific field, with the aim to identify the building requirements based on the users’ needs.
People on the autism spectrum face challenges in different areas of life that can be supported by a smart home and interior design solution developed in the SENSHome project. A guideline is provided through the Human Centered Design approach, that includes methods and tools to assist the design process from the very beginning. Through workshops, the users and the context of use were considered in order to derive requirements for a comprehensive solution. Personas, which represent too a corresponding depiction of activities of daily living, risk factors, and mitigating measure served as a basis for the later development of the requirements and functionalities of the SENSHome environment.
In this paper, we outline a framework for justice in design practice that escape the paradox inclusive design seems to be trapped in and introduces three tools to meet the demands it raises: Rawls’s idea of the original position, cognitive empathy, and public deliberation. We suggest that applying these tools to the design process makes sense of inclusive design as an effective design stance and allows meeting the demands for equitable use it raises.