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Dublin City University (DCU) was designated the world’s first autism-friendly university in 2018. They work closely with global best practices and are committed to adapting the environment, raising awareness and acceptance, and building initiatives to make it as easy as possible for autistic community members to participate fully in all aspects of university life. Pursuant of that goal, they commissioned the development of this Autism Friendly University Design Guide to provide the requisite built environment infrastructure to realise their programs, processes and procedures to successfully create a truly autism friendly university. These test case projects illustrate the application of that guide, which is primarily informed by the Autism ASPECTSS Design Index.

Dar Al Omran, Jordan, Architects and Urban Design Consultants
Magda Mostafa, Autism Design Consultant, 2016

This project is comprised of a multi-functional mixed-use neighborhood including mainstream and special schools, sports facilities, a library, community services, residential accommodations and retail. It is operated by the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) and was designed in collaboration with Dar AlOmran in Amman, Jordan and is located in Sharjah, UAE. Presented here is the Autism School which was framed by, and developed in accordance with, the ASPECTSS guidelines. Working as a special needs and autism consultant, specific responsibilities included program development and verification, sensory design masterplan guidelines, architectural design guidelines, peer review of concept and design development stages as well as support with interior design detailing and material selection.

Research and Service, University of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Altus Studios, Architects Magda Mostafa, Autism Design Consultant

This project presents the possibilities of sensory environments as healing spaces, through a comprehensive therapy and medical services center. The scope of autism consultancy included program development and verification, sensory program zoning, concept design guidelines, schematic design client workshops, schematic design peer review, design development peer review, interior design detailing, material specification and operational strategies. Throughout, the project was guided by the ASPECTSS framework, but layered with a sequence of sensory design strategies including: users as a spectrum, good design as a basic human right, autism-inclusive universal design, independence as a goal and narrative-centric design. Other strategies worked in tandem to these principles including sensory-spatial diagnostics which assessed the program spatial offerings from a sensory lens, grouping them strategically to capitalize on sensory zoning, sequencing and predictable, more manageable flows of space. The diagram presented shows the overlay of sensory narratives, identification of transition zone
locations and sensory zoning.

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EL BALAD AUTISM CENTER, Ramallah, Palestine
United Nations Relief Work Agency (UNRWA)
Engineering Department Design Unit
with funding from the Saudi Fund for Development
Magda Mostafa, Autism Design Consultant, 2018

Built using traditional methods and vernacular elements of load bearing stone and a hierarchy of courtyards, this education center for autistic Palestinian refugee orphans is located in an olive grove in a small rural area in Ramallah. Comprised of therapy spaces and on-site accommodation, this live-learn project provides much-needed support to a triple vulnerable population. Through a workshop conducted in Cairo, the design was reviewed using the ASPECTSS principles and multiple resultant concepts were integrated into the final design.

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Peacock and Lewis, Architects
Magda Mostafa, Autism Design Consultant, 2015-2016

This project was unique in that it hybridized a retro-fit and new build opportunity. Being brought in to perform an ASPECTSS-informed Post-Occupancy Evaluation of the elementary school of the Els For Autism Center for Excellence in Jupiter, Florida, we were able to retro-fit the elementary school with design interventions as well as inform the design adjustment of the High School which was yet unbuilt. These interventions focused on acoustical mitigation, visually informed navigation strategies, independent way finding, affordance of sensory transition opportunities, modular compartmentalized spatial classroom strategies and provision of de-escalation space. A truly research/design evidencebased project, we returned to perform a post-post-occupancy evaluation and assessed the impact these interventions had on student learning and experience in the school. Results showed preliminary positive impact and are currently being prepared for publication.

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