CRP Students at Autism Charrette - City and Regional Planning
Autism Charrette - City and Regional Planning, Ohio State

Knowlton Students Win National Planning Award for Autism Project

“Autism Planning and Design Guidelines 1.0” has been selected as the 2019 AICP Student Project Award from the American Planning Association (APA). City and Regional Planning (CRP) students in Professor of Practice Kyle Ezell’s studios and workshop developed the project that explores ways planners, architects and landscape architects can create communities where adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can thrive.

The project is the culmination of a one-and-a-half-year process that included three undergraduate studios and one graduate workshop where CRP students engaged with adults with autism, parents of adults with autism, professionals from planning and urban design-related fields, and experts on autism.

The students’ planning and design framework advocates for a process that engages adults with autism as collaborative partners who can represent their needs and aspirations from their own perspective. “Stressing that planners must plan with adults with autism, not for them, is at the core of the students’ research and proposals,” commented Ezell. “This toolkit can help planners become proactive in creating more inclusive places relative to this underserved population.”

Plans and policies from the student project have already laid the groundwork for continued research on this topic, as well as implementation in the field of planning. The planning principles outlined in “Autism Planning and Design Guidelines 1.0” helped establish the APA’s Planning with Underserved Populations Interest Group. The findings and recommendations of the students’ work have also been published as a Planner’s Advisory Service Memo on the APA web page.

The impact of the students’ work is already finding practical applications. The city of Athens, Ohio is implementing the “Six Feelings Framework”—an outcome of the students’ research—in its comprehensive plan update. Paul Logue (MCRP ‘08), the city planner, is also using the students’ guidelines as a starting point in implementing new ideas governed by that city’s disability commission. The City of Dublin, Ohio is in the early stages of implementing guidelines for ASD inclusiveness in their micro-transit plan.

“The level of research, stakeholder engagement and policy development conducted by our students has been exceptional,” commented Ezell, noting as well the guidance provided by his teaching associate and city and regional planning doctoral student Gala Korniyenko. “Now and into the future, Ohio State students are making an important and positive impact in the planning field, as this national recognition attests.”

Student project members include Mercedes Bann, Terrence Barr, Alex Blankenship, Tomesa Brown, Kevin Cannon, Alex Carlson, Linya Cheng, Chordel Christian, Caroline Corona, Matt Dean, Sara Ford, Greg Gaus, Joseph Grove, Jack Hehemann, Jimmy Hoppel, Grant Hughling, Michael Kaufman, Aerin Ledbetter, Amber Long, Nicole Marcus, David Marlow, Brad McKinniss, James Metz, Eric Miller, Sayee Mudholkar, Alaina Parrish, Sam Richards, Amalia Ricksecker, Chase Ridge, Andrew Romanoff, Safa Saleh, Alyssa Saltzman, Teajuana Scott, Isabel Storey, Terrick Terry, Dalton Walker, Maureen Welsh, Michael Widman, Dalton Wilkins and Michelle Williams.

The award will be presented at the National Planning Conference Awards Luncheon in San Francisco in April. Coverage of the project will also appear in the April issue of Planning magazine.

The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is the American Planning Association's professional institute and provides leadership in certification of professional planners, ethics, professional development, planning education, and the standards of planning practice.

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