A designer's approach

how can autistic adults with learning disabilities be involved in the design process?

Katie Gaudion, Ashley Hall, Jeremy Myerson, Elizabeth Pellicano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


Autistic adults with limited speech and additional learning disabilities who are often excluded from design research are at the heart of this project. These are people whose perceptions, experiences and interactions with their surroundings are unique, but also are people who may not be able to communicate verbally their differences to the remaining 99% of the population. This, in combination with their distinctive cognitive profile, has resulted in a lack of studies involving people living with autism, and consequently their life experiences may neither be heard nor understood and remain largely unexplored. By reflecting upon the ongoing design collaboration between The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the autism charity The Kingwood Trust, this paper reflects on the approach and methods used in three design studies. Particular attention is paid towards the careful selection, adaptation and development of collaborative design methods for autistic adults and their support staff to be involved. By working beyond the boundaries of a neurotypical culture, the project aims to support the greater goal of improving the everyday experiences of people living with autism by breaking down the barriers to participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-69
Number of pages21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • autism
  • adults
  • learning disabilities
  • participatory design
  • environment
  • sensory preferences

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