hand and feathers



Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, The Kingwood Trust, BEING and The Monument Trust, London, UK,


A project in collaboration with Andrew Brand


The Problem — More than 90 per cent of adults with autism have unusual sensory processing, which affects the way they relate to the world around them. They often live in environments that do not take these differences into account — and methods to identify sensory preferences are not readily available for design professionals.


The Process — This project set out to explore how a total design-led approach to the different sensory needs of adults with autism could improve quality of life. The research looked widely at how people are currently supported in their homes. Four adults with autism — each with different needs and abilities — took part in a series of design workshops in an improvised sensory space to help inform a new approach to sensory profiling.


The Results — The project has three main outputs: first, a new card-based system for sensory profiling using images to enable adults with autism to express their sensory preferences and designers to respond to particular needs; second, bespoke sensory props and guidance showing how to use lighting, fabrics and other materials to create temporary, affordable and adaptable sensory spaces; and third, a series of creative workshops for Kingwood staff to support the development of skills in mapping sensory preferences and making sensory props. Findings will be used to inform the interior design of a new Kingwood residence to accommodate eight adults with autism.