The Battle For The Future Of Autism Advocacy


The combined third/fourth grade classroom at Seattle’s Academy for Precision Learning (APL) is humming with activity. An inclusion-based private school created in 2007 to meet the needs of autistic children in grades K-12, APL boasts classrooms that accommodate a spectrum of behaviors and learning styles. Most children are seated at desks; one small group of students is working together around a table, while another child with noise-canceling headphones is sitting at the back of the room with an aide beside her. The teacher is giving a lecture about the Battle of the Alamo; children are wiggling and talking quietly to themselves. One child occasionally shouts out random words, but only a handful of the classroom’s mix of autistic and neurotypical students seem to notice.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.