Architecture for Autism: Application of the Autism ASPECTSS™ Design Index to Home Environments

By Magda Mostafa.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 18, 2014 Free Download

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.

Keywords: Autism, Housing, Special Needs Design, Inclusion, Residential Design

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 4, Issue 2, April 2014, pp.25-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 18, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 761.674KB)).

Dr. Magda Mostafa

Associate Professor, Department of Construction and Architectural Engineering, The American University in Cairo, Qattameya, New Cairo, Egypt

Dr. Magda Mostafa is currently an Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University in Cairo. Her research interests include architectural design pedagogy as well as special needs design, with a focus on architecture for autism. She has published broadly on the latter and recently developed the Autism ASPECTSS™ Design Index, a set of evidence based criteria for assessing and developing built environments for autism spectrum disorder. For this work she has been named one of the pre-eminent researchers in autism design by the international architectural media. She has also received various awards including an ArcVision Award for Women in Architecture in 2013, the International Award for Excellence in the Design Field in 2008, was short-listed for The International Constructed Environment Award in 2011, and was nominated for the 2005 UNESCO Prize for Research and Training in Special Needs. She is currently a Special Needs Design Associate at Progressive Architects in Cairo. In 2011 she was elected the Deputy Vice President for Region V in the UNESCO/UIA (International Union of Architects) Education Commission and Validation Council and has also represented UIA on various international competition juries.