The Ideal Home for the Autistic Child: Physiological Rationale for Design Strategies

By Catherine Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED AP, and Lauren Underwood, PhD

Along with behavioral and educational strategies used to teach and assist children with autism, there are ways to influence their success through alteration and treatment of their physical environments. It is important to create a home environment that accommodates the different needs of the autistic child and takes into account the rest of the family’s needs in relationship to that child.

Part 1: Sensory Response Functions

To begin to understand what areas of the home environment can change to support children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), it is helpful to first understand some of the physiological issues that can necessitate attention to structural and design features of the child’s home and other environments. Primary among these are ASD children’s sensory response ….

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Kindergarten Classrooms

The welcoming classroom — what is it, and why is it so important for our kindergarten children?

A welcoming classroom is intended to create a sense of politeness and approachability for a young child, to make the child feel internally warm and safe, comfortable and happy. Doesn’t each of us want this for our own children? There is a trend of moving away from the institutional settings that older classrooms present and towards the desire to provide a nurturing environment for our younger children to learn. This is most especially important for our kindergarten-aged children during their first year of school.

For kindergarten teachers to create a welcoming atmosphere for their students, they would provide individual spaces within the classroom for various intimate activities that would allow the children to interact ….

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Residential Living Options for Adults with Autism

Earlier this year professionals and parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) gathered together for the Adult Services and Residential Think Tank at the AutismOne/Generation Rescue Conference in Chicago, Illinois. The presenting panelists included Dr. Dan Burns, Dr. Stephen Shore, Professor James Adams, Robert Krakow, Esq., Anna Huntley, Vicki Martin, RN, Barbara Fischkin and Polly Tommey.

Simple Design Strategies for Peaceful Living with your ASD Child

Many tools exist to turn a house into a safe, child-proof home. But beyond safety, other challenges exist when it comes to parents and siblings sharing space with a child on the autism spectrum. As an architect, and the mother of a son with autism, I’ve combined my experience to develop creative yet simple design ideas that help reduce conflict between children with ASD and their family members. If you are designing a brand new home, or considering a renovation, aside from implementing ADA strategies such as wider door openings, here’s a list of items to consider as you design building plans.

  • Increase the floor area in tradition-ally tight spaces to allow family members to move throughout the house while allowing children with autism to avoid “forced touching” or feeling like ….

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Creating Successful Opportunities in School and at Home for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders − the Smallest Details Make the Biggest Difference

Probably the biggest change we experienced as a family with a special needs son was puberty. With puberty and adolescence came more passive-aggressive behaviors. With age came strength. Now, put the two together, and you have more aggression, whether shown through self-harm or harm to others. The second change involved intentional manipulation of behaviors or reactions but seemingly without any rational thinking. In other words, our son believed if he punched the wall, it would create enough threat that he would maybe win something even though he did not realize that he was losing the battle.