More on physical structure

The physical structure of homes and other buildings is of special interest here because people on the autism spectrum often have great difficulty with orientation. Various autistic limitations contribute to this. The physical environment needs to be clear to them.

For a general understanding of the importance of physical structure, therefore, one is invited to look at orientation, in which more is to be found about the underlying autistic limitations as well.

For this website we thankfully make use of seven articles we regard provisionally as the core-literature on design for autism. These authors unanimously emphasize the importance of a clear physical structure. See here.

Especially in view of people with more severe forms of autism, who often live in residential facilities, the advise is to assign to each space one or a very limited number of specific functions. In so doing oversight and shifting are enhanced, supporting orientation. Walking directions need to be logical and therefore functional, because playful detours can be stress producing.

There are situations in which so much functional differentiation is needed that it’s better not to combine the kitchen and the dining room into a single area. There are considerably more situations in which – for various reasons – the same goes for bathrooms and toilets.
However, practical and ‘logical’ considerations do call for adjoining spaces in both cases.

Narrow corridors and hallways, and stairs too, if there are multiple levels, increase the risk of unwanted physical contact. Many people with (severe forms of) autism have an exceptional aversion against physical contact, something which contributes to a rather general need for more personal space. Generous dimensions are therefore desirable for spaces in which one lives, works, is treated, or is in any other way in the presence of others.