Designing for autism

27 March 2023

The 16th annual World Autism Awareness Day is on 2 April 2023, the aim of which is to raise awareness of autism and highlight what can be done to improve the quality of life for autistic people. In recognition of this hugely important day, we want to share some of the specialist Autism design work we have been doing in our Education team, as well as hear from Xenos, one of our colleagues who has been diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Just under 1.5 million children in England have special education needs, which is a trend that has been increasing considerably since 2016, and one of the most common needs are pupils with ASD. There are currently over 160,000 children with Autism in schools across England and over 70% are in mainstream school with the rest in specialist education, home educated or out of education altogether.

Over the last 10 years or so, a key area of specialism within our Education team has been designing schools to cater for a wide range of Special Educational Needs (SEND), including ASD. To date, we have designed and built 9 SEND Schools across the country, including 2 new build schools designed entirely for children with ASD for the National Autistic Society as well as participating as guest speakers at national conferences which focus on designing inclusive learning environments with the aim of sharing inclusive design best practice principles.

In 2021 Xenos Barrett joined the Pozzoni team as part of the Employ Autism Higher Education network initially and upon successful completion of this, we were delighted to be able to offer Xenos a permanent position with us in the role of architectural technologist in our Brighton office. Below, Xenos shares a brief summary of his experience within the education system as someone diagnosed with Autism.

“I was diagnosed with autism at just three and a half years old and faced many challenges within the education system. My parents had overcome many barriers to ensure that I had good opportunities to mix with people who didn’t have learning difficulties and to not be segregated because of my autism. Since then, I have undertaken my BSc (Hons) degree in Architectural Technology and my MSc degree in Building Information Management. My journey into employment hasn’t always been plain sailing since graduating, but with support from the Pozzoni Academy I have gained a permanent position as an Architectural Technologist.”

Light it Up Blue on world autism awareness day, 2 April, you may see plenty of blue being shown off to support autism awareness. The color blue’s association to autism originated with the autism advocacy association known as Autism Speaks. Their “Light it Up Blue” campaign calls for people to wear blue to promote autism awareness.

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