World Autism Day: Designing for Neurodiversity

April 2, 2024

Today, April 2, 2024, marks the 17th annual World Autism Awareness Day – a day meant to affirm and promote all human rights and fundamental freedoms for those on the spectrum. 

Between 15% and 20% of the U.S. population are considered neurodivergent—having brain functions and behaviors that are not considered neurotypical including Autism Spectral Disorder (ASD), ADHD, and dyslexia. The concept of neurodiversity acknowledges and celebrates the innate variation in human brain function and behavioral traits throughout the population.

Neurodiversity exists when neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals inhabit a group environment. To design for the wide spectrum encompassed by neurodiversity, KSS Architects approaches our projects from a place of empathy, seeking to understand the many ways people may experience and interact with the world around them.

By thinking beyond one type of user, more opportunities can be developed to create learning environments that are more inclusive and supportive for all. KSS Architects is a leader in designing thoughtful, beneficial, and beautiful spaces that support the development of students and adults with ASD and the professionals who educate and care for them.

Bancroft, Mount Laurel Campus

Bancroft, Mount Laurel Campus, Mount Laurel, New Jersey

The Bancroft Campus has been a leader in breaking down boundaries for individuals with neurological challenges, ASD, and intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 130 years. To continue their unmatched commitment, Bancroft relocated programs from its Haddonfield campus to a new, 80-acre campus in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

KSS planned and designed the campus, collaborating closely with multiple stakeholders and consultants to bring to fruition Bancroft’s holistic concept of creating a balance between comfort and personal growth and thoughtfully nurturing each child’s transitions in a nature-based, sensory-rich setting for each student and resident.

Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services Community Center

Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services Community Center, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Continuing with a commitment to compassionately designing spaces for neurodiversity in mind, KSS re-envisioned the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services Community Center. The new community center helps adults with ASD lead independent and fulfilling lives, offering employment opportunities, job training, psychological assessment, and other services.

KSS led the design, with consideration to sensory impacts and implemented noise-reducing materials by creating alcoves with soft edges for respite. A series of vocational, social, and life skills workrooms are organized around a communal “living room” space, optimally positioned to provide views of the neighborhood, campus, and courtyard.

Eden Autism Services, Eden Wercs Adult Services Center

Eden Autism Services, Eden Wercs Adult Services Center, Hamilton, New Jersey

As a leader in public outreach, the Eden WERCS Adult Autism Services Center offers onsite training for schoolteachers, healthcare workers, and related professionals who regularly interact with individuals on the spectrum.

Selected for our long-standing relationship with Eden and expertise in ASD-responsive design, KSS configured Eden WERCS with a focus on spaces to environmentally address the needs of Eden’s clients and employees.