Avoiding visual exposure

Recommendation 10

Chapter (theme)
Garden / outside area (demarcations)

Because of
weak powers of imagination, social and communication limitations

In order to
create familiar and safe spaces.

Most probably the feeling that others can observe one through the outside windows is more unsafe and disturbing for people with autism than it is for others. We can not pinpoint exactly which autistic traits are at play here. Objections against such exposure are frequently and spontaneously mentioned in at least two Dutch research projects among small groups of independently living people.
For instance by Veeken & Rengs:
“Something which came up frequently during the interviews is the wish to live in a resort-like setting in which the respondents would have a detached home in which they wouldn’t be exposed to the view from outside.”
“As far as the home itself went, it was mentioned several times one shouldn’t be exposed to outside viewers. The houses should be positioned in a way which makes this impossible.”

Especially in the evening visual exposure is experienced as very unsafe. Kannerhuis client Adèle (20) says for instance: “Please no window in the kitchen where you’re doing the dishes in plain sight of a residential neighborhood. No need for my neighbor to see how I do the dishes. Or, when I’m going to the kitchen for a drink, nobody should see me scarcely clothed.”
In order to avoid such exposure the frame of the outside windows should be as high as 5′ 11″ in standing spaces such as kitchens and around 3 feet in others.
In existing buildings and those with future flexibility the same aim can be reached by taping windows or fitting the with ground glass to these heights.

It is interestng to note the disturbed perception around windows from which some on the spectrum suffer, although this don’t call for specific measures. It regularly happens that one sees the other person through a window but cannot imagine to being observed vice versa. In such instances, of course, the problem of undue exposure doesn’t occur.



autistic traits

The ones mentioned here are therefore even more tentative than around other recommendations.
research projects
See Adelaar, Tess, Huis Voor Kees. De wooneisen en –wensen van 55 plussers met een vorm van autisme en een normale of hoge begaafdheid met betrekking tot het interieur, de woning en de omgeving van de woning. Adviesrapport. Amersfoort, Hogeschool Utrecht, 2008. (thesis) And also: Veeken, Liza van der & Fleur van Rengs, Woonwensen van mensen met een autismespectrumstoornis, Arnhem/Nijmegen, Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen (HAN, thesis), 2012 PDF