Architecture for Autism

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Research estimates that 1 in every 88 children fall within the spectrum of autism disorders (Baio 2012, 1). Research has shown that sensory input from the built environment can positively influence autistic behaviour (Mostafa 2008, 197), and that the home presents a unique opportunity for such influence (Firestone 2007, 102-103; Zierhut 2002, 12). From original interviews and focus groups, first conducted in 2004 (Mostafa 2008, 192-193) and previous literature, this paper investigates the relationship between autistic behaviour and the built environment. Basing its structure on the Sensory Design Theory (Mostafa 2008, 203) the Autism ASPECTSS™ Design Index was developed to assess 3 case-study homes. This index was comprised of a checklist of seven design criteria suggested by the preliminary research to be facilitative factors for autism. The Autism ASPECTSS Design Index is illustrated here as a tool for assessment of home environments, and presented as a possible design tool for both home and other built environments.