Inclusive cities helping people with autism

We think we’ve seen one of the ultimate examples of how good urban design can help people. American landscape architecture student Elizabeth Decker has created a plan for her city of Nashville, Tennessee inspired by her brother who has Autism.

With the growing rates of diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) this could be an idea which generates tangible benefits for millions of people around the world, given the principles are also applicable more broadly.

Ms Decker applied inclusive design principles and medical and sociological research to develop an urban design toolkit. Having interviewed adults with ASD to identify their basic needs such as life skills, vocational training, mental and physical health support, employment, public transport and affordable housing, she made decisions on how the services should be grouped together to ensure easy access without the assistance of a carer. Green space was essential to the equation.

Credit: Elizabeth Decker
In her Masters’ thesis Elizabeth Decker writes “The final theoretical urban systems toolkit and diagrammatic proposal for Nashville, Tennessee provides exploratory research for city planners, architects, and landscape architects to design for cities inclusive of adults with autism, as well as other neurological disabilities or limitations.”

Ms Decker proposes that this approach ads a new disciplinary perspective for those planning for a maturing autistic population.

These aspects of urban life are something we should all consider in our work.


Thanks to Fast Company for bringing this tool kit to our attention.

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