Designing for the Autism Spectrum

Rocky Mountain Green: USGBC Colorado
February 8, 2018, 11:15 AM
Filed under: Autism + Design, Uncategorized, USGBC | Tags: , ,


Another speaking opportunity! I’m very excited to not only be able to continue to present on this topic, but I have been fortunate enough to find like-minded colleagues to collaborate with as well.  I hope I am able to minimize the time between posts with more speaking opportunities and be able to share my experiences as well.

I will be presenting with Meaghan Walls of Assistology in Omaha and Stuart Shell of Forte Building Science (a division of M.E. GROUP). Meaghan is a hands-on engineer whose company provides assistive technology solutions for businesses and individuals. Stuart works in IT for building systems, focusing on optimizing the environment’s performance and the human experience.

Our session for the May 3rd, 2018 regional conference will focus on the sustainability movement and how action in the present moment will increasingly draw from human-centered sciences like ethnography and neuroscience.  We shift the core of the movement from exclusively environmental to empathy – caring for each other, here and now.  There is no better lens to view this transformation from than disability – a cultural construct that limits who can partake in public life.

Discovering Human Experience in Accessibility

What is an accessible design in our age with ADHD and Autism? And what does that have to do with sustainability? Developments in neuroscience and technology provide new approaches to inclusive design. This presentation will illustrate how a person-centered approach to barrier-free design results in better buildings for all users.

May 3rd, 2018

For registration for the conference:


Object Study
November 5, 2012, 9:23 AM
Filed under: Autism + Design | Tags:

Individuals with autism are affected by the tiniest detail and are being bombarded by overstimulation in our society every day.  Simplifying design while focusing our efforts on details that may be overlooked could not only help this specific group but our entire society as well.

This can be achieved through studies of objects and materials.  The idea of creating stair-like objects came from a discussion of how children learn.  By using architectural elements, I was able to explore different ways to describe what a stair was, and how it was used in a smaller scale. The first material used was steel and wood.  These were the first initial materials to be used in the final design of the building.  Wood introduces a warm feeling into the building, while steel has a rigidity that offers structure and support.


The second material used was walnut.  I was able to carve stairs into a piece of walnut that was eventually sanded down to allow the user of this object to continuously slide his/her finger along the steps repeatedly. The repetition introduced by this object opened a new idea to the project. The need for this “rubbing” to keep happening needed to appear spatially in the final design.

The smoothness of the material and how the object was designed to control user’s need to continuously use the object advanced the design of the building. Image

Concrete was the third and final material used in this series of explorations.  The stair-like qualities in this exploration become quite literal.  This allowed me to understand the weight of concrete as well as the different textures that could be created with different molds and concrete types. Image