Autism spectrum condition and the built environment

Keith McAllister, Aine McBeth, Neil Galway*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
105 Downloads (Pure)


A growing body of research proves that city green spaces provide positive physical and mental health benefits. However, access is not universal. For many people with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), our cities can be difficult to navigate, due to the cognitive and social challenges inherent within the Built Environment. Problematically, cities are planned and designed by and for neurotypical people who commonly neglect the needs of those with disabilities. This paper aims to identify the impacts of the Built Environment on the walkability of a city for those with Autism Spectrum Condition. Using film, photography and recordings, two alternative journeys from a transport hub to a public park are analysed. A focus group consisting of parents of children with Autism Spectrum Condition aid the investigation by analysing the material gathered before suggesting potential solutions to the identified challenges. Suggestions included transition zones and provision of dedicated quiet places in the city, compartmentalisation of large spaces, utilising technology before journeys alongside improving safety and signage. Reflecting on the findings, this paper provides a number of urban design principles for the Built Environment, which consider those with Autism Spectrum Condition, that will make our shared Built Environment more inclusive for all.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1164-1178
Number of pages15
JournalCities and Health
Issue number6
Early online date10 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2022


  • Autism
  • built environment
  • city
  • inclusion
  • walkability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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