Autism-Friendly Design with Flip Schrameijer

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

Contribution by Flip Schrameijer to the conference-book ‘Autism-friendly design’, held October 9th 2015 in London

In her excellent 2011 review of the state of autism-friendly design, Maria Assirelli took her own involvement in it as point of departure; and with good reason since she recounted how, in 2005, she took a job at GA Architects, a firm in the vanguard of building for children on the spectrum. Founding partner of the firm, Christopher Beaver wrote the first of a limited number of ground-breaking articles on this subject in 2003 which he elaborated in 2006.

My own involvement started in 2009 when the Dutch autism centre Dr. Leo Kannerhuis asked me to write a brochure to exhibit the expertise in design it had acquired through its participation in the building of numerous treatment and long-stay homes for autistic patients and residents in The Netherlands. This centre – lets call it The Kannerhouse – treats patients and develops innovative programs such as around work and education. Its main policy is ‘life coaching’, in which people on the spectrum are provided with sufficient professional support to live (semi-)independent and fulfilling lives. Of course, if homes adapted to the needs of people on the spectrum were available, their chances to stay away from, or limit their institutionalization would increase. Consequently, the Kannerhouse sought to increase its consultancy requests in order to set up a regular paid service on a budget-neutral basis. For this it had to widen the circle of interested parties which was an important reason to expand its areas of interest beyond treatment and long-stay homes to include independent living, schools, and living at home. (The workplace was deemed one bridge too far.)

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