Purposeful Architecture Designs Virginia Institute of Autism Facility for Adolescents and Adults

Building for the Future: The Center for Adolescent and Adult Autism Services Take Shape

By Catherine Purple Cherry, AIA, CAS, LEED, Purposeful Architecture 

When you raise a child with autism, you learn to live in the moment.  You can’t think about the future, especially in the early years.  You find yourself over-whelmed with just trying to figure out the day.  An over time, you might look forward a bit.  Before you worry what will happen when you’re gone.  Literally.  

Every mother or father raising a child worries about their future.  When a child struggles, these worries can be even bigger, if not, simply huge.  I remember my mother worrying about my brother with intellectual disabilities and his future without her.  She worried about her other children too.  And she worried that her other ….

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life skills

“Ask Cathy” Column: August 2016

“Ask Cathy… An Open Dialogue with a Mother and Special Needs Architect” 
Q: I’d like to repaint my daughter’s room. Can you explain how colors impact a child on the autism spectrum?

A: Science has shown that colors have an impact on mood, and color has a long history of therapeutic use (Withrow, 2004). Generally speaking, bright colors are exciting, and soft colors are calming. However, the effect of particular colors on ASD children can vary, and trial and error with multiple colors may be necessary to determine the color that is right for any individual child. In general: RED stimulates the mind, increases circulation and appetite, BLUE is calming, reduces blood pressure, BRIGHT YELLOW reflects light, can overstimulate, PALE YELLOW is calming, GREEN is soothing, associated with nature and creativity, LIGHT PINK or rose is soothing.

Research has shown that some ASD children ….

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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.

Eight Key Issues for Special Needs Environmental Design

There are several design strategies that can be implemented into K-12 school settings that aid children with special needs to be more successful during their learning years. While there are design guidelines required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) such as ramps, handicapped-accessible bathrooms, and stair railing extensions, there are other non-regulated improvements that greatly increase the ability for children with special needs to learn more successfully.