Designing for Autism: An ASPECTSS™ Post-Occupancy Evaluation of Learning Environments

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Architecture Department

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Magda Mostafa

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Research Article

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ArchNet International Journal of Architectural Research

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The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the application of the Autism ASPECTSS™ Design Index in the Post- Occupancy Evaluation of existing learning environments for children along the autism spectrum. First published in 2014 this index outlines 7 design criteria that have been hypothesized to support environments conducive of learning for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Using the index as a framework, this paper outlines a case study of a Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of an existing pre-K-8th grade public charter purpose-built school for children on the autism spectrum. The tools used for the evaluation were: the ASPECTSS scoring of the school through a survey of teachers and administrators; on-site behavioral in-class observation; and focus groups of parents, teachers, staff and administrators. The results informed a design retro-fit proposal that strived to assess any ASPECTSS compliance issues and implement the index across the learning spaces, therapy spaces, support services and outdoor learning environments of the school. This paper will outline the application of the index and the resultant design from this process. The results will strive to present a scalable and replicable methodology and prototype for improving existing built environments for learners with ASD.

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