Designing spaces for people with autism means taking extra steps to address their complex needs. Dickinson + Partners designs spaces that celebrate the child, while supporting this diversity of need.

Designers of spaces for autistic children should consider design standards and solutions, as identified by the professional community that serves children with autism.

  • Flexible and adaptable furnishings, spatial arrangements and lighting solutions.
  • Welcoming layouts to promote a feeling of warmth, while fostering communication and relationships
  • High perching spots (child balconies) and low, enclosed spaces above and at floor level, shallow enough so a teacher can monitor children.
  • Sensory elements for exploration that are soft, such as beanbag chairs, stuffed couches, carpeting, swings, clay, and water.
  • Design and furnishings that limit or decrease sensory overload, such as visual and auditory distractions.
  • Predictability in the environment through evident paths, activity pockets, neighborhood-like districts (named hallways or color-coded zones), bold and memorable edges (murals, half walls or fences) and landmarks (a sculpture, indoor garden or aquarium).
  • Emotional safety through transparency in windows and doorways to ease transitions and make a child feel safe.  Use small, enclosed spaces to enhance feelings of closeness, intimacy, and safety.
  • Softer lighting and colors (warmer hues, skin tones and pastels), soft furnishings, interesting textures, thoughtfully placed works of art, and plants and objects from the natural world can turn a conventional classroom into a cozy, home-like environment.