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14 Haziran 2024

How To Design For Autism

The architect behind the Center of Autism and the Developing Brain says the key is to be sensitive to light, sight, textures, and sounds.




Problem: many autistic kids are super sensitive to the sight, sound, and feel of their environment. So when New York-Presbyterian decided to build an early intervention center for autistic children, they needed it designed with their needs in mind.

One in 68 American children have been diagnosed with autism, according to the Center for Disease ControlEarly intervention is the most effective treatment, requiring dedicated centers, but autistic children’s hypersensitivity to their surroundings makes designing such facilities difficult.

To design the new Center of Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB), an outpatient early intervention center for autistic children as young as eighteen months, New York-Presbyterian turned to their long-time design partners at DaSilva Architects. Although DaSilva had never designed for autistic children before, principal Jacques Black tells me they worked to convert a ramshackle gymnasium into a comfortable environment for autistic kids. How? By paying close attention to texture, acoustics, and lighting conditions–lessons just as applicable to the rest of the world when it comes to designing autism-friendly spaces. New York-Presbyterian faced the challenge of designing an early intervention center for autistic children, who are highly sensitive to their environment. Collaborating with DaSilva Architects, they transformed a gymnasium into the Center of Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB) by prioritizing texture, acoustics, and lighting. This approach, although novel for DaSilva, underscores the importance of designing autism-friendly spaces globally, given the prevalence of autism and the effectiveness of early intervention.

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