Can you imagine every time the bathroom fan buzzed, you became unhinged? Or where getting to the kitchen appliances feels more like a deadly fight every time you cook a meal?
You have to start thinking how many autistic adults who struggle to live in homes that don’t accommodate their needs feel to understand the challenge.
Today, the majority of adults with autism live in the home of a parent or other family member or have a caretakers but what if the person would like to get a little bit more independence? Wouldn’t a small house in your backyard give them the feeling of freedom, while being safely next to your doorstep? At ecokit we are aiming to create the perfect home for anyone.
Over the last few decades there were many studies made on autism, mainly focused on children and adolescents. But autism is a lifelong condition, and just 2 percent of these research funds are focused on the needs of adults.
Until now, autistic adults didn’t have many options to live independently in a community. They are often forced to live in developmental centers, nursing homes or intermediate care facilities. Only in recent years families and professionals started to consider developing semi-independent residences in the community.
In order to respond to these specific needs, we have decided to develop ecokit house to easily adjust and fit inhabitants with autism or other disabilities.
Planning for independence
Researchers, support providers and design professionals are only now starting to explore how to plan for individuals with autism once they grow up, leave the school system, including where they will live, how they can set up a home, and the best way for them to become happy members of a community.
For those preparing for their autistic kids or grandchildren to move out of the house, the questions and concerns are manifest: is it better to live close by surrounded by family but in their own space or would they be better served in a gated community developed specifically for individuals on the spectrum?
Another question is: how about living with roommates, are there advantages to having them? If so, how many? Also are there home technologies that can enhance security and independence without invading privacy?
Then the home’s layout, room sizes and configurations need to be considered. Design aspects that most of us don’t think twice about can be a huge deal for someone with autism: proper lighting, wall colors and appliance noise levels are all affecting elements.
For those who haven’t cooked or cleaned before, the arrangement of countertops, the sturdiness of cabinetry, even how the water flows out of the kitchen faucet can be the difference between mealtime being a frustrating or satisfying experience.
A lot of little things can add up
We would like to design ecokit with the ability for residential settings that would enhance key quality-of-life goals that are particularly important to those with autism. This include sensory balance and being able to control privacy and social interaction, in addition to having choice and independence, clarity and predictability, and access and support in the neighborhood (to name a few).
With these goals in mind, we are setting to develop the suitability of the ecokit home and its outdoor space, and apply design modifications that might be needed to maximize its livability.
Our guidelines encompass everything from big-picture suggestions to specific tips for individual rooms; they range from the arrangements of social life to the durability of household fixtures.
Since requirements, needs and tastes of those on the spectrum can vary widely, it’s necessary for us to work closely with potential residents and their families. The importance of doing this cannot be overemphasized – a well-designed environment addressing the needs and aspirations of individual residents could improve their quality of life and ability to live independently. And at ecokit we believe everyone has the right to live their own way.