Category Archives: Autism Awareness

At Home with Autism: Designing Housing for the Spectrum


The University of Bristol, the Chicago University Press, has published a landmark book on designing homes for people on the Autism Spectrum, At Home with Autism.  The authors, Kim Steele and Sherry Ahrentzen, have been exploring this issue with rare sensitivity and thoroughness for some years. This 320 page book is a tour-de-force with a thoroughgoing analysis of research and precedent, practical design guidelines, encyclopedic references, and an informed rationale for the importance of flexibility and variety. Kim Steele is a research and design consultant focused on improving quality of life through design. Sherry Ahrentzen is the Shimberg Professor of Housing Studies at the University of Florida.

Buy the book online

Related links

The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD)

Stanford researchers using Google Glass to help children with autism


Google Glass’ software learns to identify people’s faces and their emotional expressions — what project founder Catalin Voss calls “action units” —  and then classifies them with specific words. This in turn helps the user recognize other people’s emotions. Autism, which affects one in 68 children, is characterized by the inability to recognize emotions in facial expressions, among other symptoms. This in turn makes social interactions and developing friendships difficult to create and sustain.

Kids With Autism Can Read Emotions Through Body Language


People with autism face a host of difficulties in a society that doesn’t always accommodate them and stereotypes that even undermine experts’ views on the disorder. Due to the social struggles that accompany autism, there’s a misconception that people with it lack empathy — that is, they can’t understand others’ thoughts and feelings. A new study, like others before it, offers evidence to the contrary.

Smartwatches and apps can make life easier for children with autism or ADHD


Researchers believe that children with autism or Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can benefit from technologies originally developed for older people.

Welfare technology has long been associated with helping older people cope at home for as much of their lives as possible.SINTEF researchers are now investigating whether technologies such as digital calendars and smartwatches can also help children with autism and/or ADHD in their daily lives.

Opening the Classroom Door for Children with Autism


We can all probably remember how we were taught to swim. Some of us had parents who took us to swimming lessons in a safely constructed pool at the local YMCA, with numerous, trained adults right next to us in the pool and floaties on our arms, while we paddled on a kickboard for as long as necessary until we were ready to swim independently.

‘Design empathy’ builds inclusive spaces for people with autism


Fluorescent lights. A wall painted bright yellow. A smoke detector that keeps beeping through a meeting. These are things that you might encounter in an office or a classroom without much notice. But what if you saw those fluorescent lights flickering intensely and heard them emitting a painfully sharp buzz? Or if that yellow wall seemed to be vibrating, like a broken computer monitor? Or if the bleep of the alarm was the loudest sound you could hear?

New Samsung app aims to aid social development for children with autism


A new app released by Samsung aims to improve the lives of children suffering from autism by presenting a fun, smartphone or tablet-based developmental aid. Many who have the condition struggle to convey the simplest of emotions or form bonds with others, due to the behavioral development issues that prevent simple interactions such as eye contact. The app, known as Look At Me, is targeted at improving the quality of life for those growing up with autism by aiding in the development of basic social skills.

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.