The Amigo Family Counseling & Ohio State University Collaboration
City Planning of Better Living Places for Individuals with Autism
The Ohio State University Department of City and Regional Planning in the Knowlton School of Architecture is collaborating with Amigo Family Counseling to learn how those in the city planning profession can improve the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder by building better places that account for their needs and interests. When OSU researchers and professionals first came to Dr. Amigo to discuss a mutual collaboration to learn more about this subject, Dr. Amigo expressed that nobody could provide more insight than individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) themselves.
Under the direction of Professor Kyle Ezell, The Ohio State University city planning research study invited clients from Amigo Family Counseling, LLC who are living with ASD to be members of a focus group to inform city planners about how individuals with ASD live their lives in their community. In the focus groups, researchers inquired about how to design and plan a better community consider how individuals with ASD get around, the kind of place they live, and how and where they like to play or relax. The goal of the research is to create environments where adults with autism can thrive. The typology will vary (local scale project, mixed-development or redevelopment, neighborhood, transit system, and others), but this goal remains the same. Creating environments where autistic adults can thrive depends on improving the knowledge and tools for city and regional planners to make this happen.
These clients had the unique opportunity to inform the city planning research team about what would help individuals with ASD thrive as it relates to transportation, housing, and recreation. Parents of these clients were invited to join a second focus group to provide insights from their perspective. These clients and parents from Amigo Family Counseling were later invited to participate in a policy and design charrette named “Planning for and with Adults with ASD.” In this charrette meeting, clients and parents joined policymakers, town designers, counselors, civil engineers, architects, and others to discuss policies, infrastructure design, and development plans specific to the needs of adults with autism.
The focus groups and policy and design meetings generated a host of ideas to OSU’s research team that led to an impressive first round of findings that can be found in the following two links:
Publication A: A professional journal article publication in the journal American Planning Association:
Publication B: A publication of a student's first attempt at research work.
Dr. Amigo and Amigo Family Counseling were also highlighted in this OSU News and Events article written by Phil Arnold: Beyond “The Cliff”: Charrette Proposes Planning Solutions for the Autistic Community