6 Selected aspects of functioning of persons with autism and their special needs regarding the access to goods and services
Persons with the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), as a group of users of goods and services with specific characteristics and special needs regarding their functioning, face numerous barriers and limitations in equal and full access to places, products, services and environments. Within universal design, the effects of interdisciplinary collaboration in the scope of analysing the needs of such persons, their abilities and rights, ought to become a set of objectives for the strategies of planning and designing products and surroundings providing a network of facilities, limiting or neutralizing the existing barriers without specialization or adaptation. Such activities should be complementary with products and services of individuated specialist support.
Persons with the autism spectrum disorders, due to their neurodevelopmental character, are a strongly diversified and heterogeneous group as regards needs and capabilities. This constitutes a fundamental difficulty when constructing a unified catalogue of needs concerning their functioning and designing for them.
In the context of universal design, it is vital but also manageable to account for the issues connected with autistic sensory problems, referring to reception and processing of sensory stimuli (data) in over- or under-responsivity – it is possible to create dedicated spaces, “sensory maps” etc. Another area of suggested solutions and actions are the elements dedicated to structuring the surroundings, providing explicitness of its functions, facilitating navigation in a given space and its predictability. They are also meant to support accessibility of information, one-channel character and visualization of messages, allowing for their processing time as well.
Keywords: universal design, accessibility, autism, facilities, sensory disorders