This initiative through the City and Regional Planning department at OSU was an attempt to create guidelines to help design cities for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The project involved clinical studies, design charrettes, and the execution of a document of guidelines for city planning with those on the spectrum in mind. The project has received national attention, won multiple awards, and is now being implemented in planning code all around the country.
Where it all began:
“How can we help people with autism thrive in our
In 2017, a planner associated with OSU came to us with a problem. His son, an individual with ASD, is severely limited in life due to his sensitivities to external stimuli such as bright lights and loud noises. He relies heavily on his father and others for transportation, and is unable to use public transit due to the tendency for unexpected stimuli in those situations.
This case isn't unique. 1 in 59 individuals were diagnosed with ASD in 2014. What's even more shocking, is that 91% of these individuals do not have driver's licenses.
Many suffer from navigation anxiety, confusion, sensory sensitivities, and over-stimulation in crowds.
This inspired a year long investigation within the College of City and Regional Planning at OSU, that included an extensive charette involving over a dozen practitioners in industries ranging from architecture to psychology to public policy. Most importantly, it included a clinical study involving around twenty adults with ASD. What resulted was the publication of Autism Planning Guidelines through American Planning Association. This has been implemented into municipal code in cities all over the country, and is even being used in the design of a new Microsoft campus.
The results can be summed up in what we call the Six Feeling Framework:
Based on this research, we produced a 183 page document with specifications for city planners to reference in order to create cities that work for everyone. 6 case studies were explored, each a different context in the modern American city, such as Downtown, Suburban, Campus, and Multimodal Hub
To learn more, see the official document below:
Check out my project, SensAI, to see how I expanded on this research to create a digital solution: