Addressing Stress for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder through a Multi-Semester Investment by Interior Design Faculty and Students


  • Seb Prohn Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Staci Carr Virginia Commonwealth University


As partners, we were guided by a belief in the capacity for neurological, social, and emotional plasticity over the lifespan. Such development, we hypothesized, required a host of contextual changes to care staff practices and client opportunities. The physical environment also needed consideration and restructuring. The team, informed by clients and families, proposed some changes in physical environments, but to actually design new environments that meet all the sensory needs of adults with ASD, we asked VCU’s Department of Interior Design to actualize individual specifications. Pragmatic and cost effective changes required considerable thought, investment, and expertise from all partners. What is more, a process for melding group strengths to encourage meaningful change for all our stakeholders will take careful planning and additional resources.