top of page


APLUS nfp :   Autistic People Living in Urban Spaces
APLUS  is a 501(c)3 charitable organization mandated to research and apply design strategies that better the lives of people living with Autism.  Our goal is to research and apply design strategies that improve environmental impacts on the autistic brain.

Neuroscientists report that physical environments play a critical role in the development of memory, spatial processing, and contextual learning. When children suffer sensory impairment, as in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their capacity to learn and their rate of cerebral cell growth is correspondingly reduced. Inadequate learning conditions naturally compound the effects of the disorder, slow development and increase the sense of isolation from their peers these children come to feel.  As adults, learning, living, travel and work conditions can and will prohibit ones capacity to participate in meaningful work, way find or travel through spaces, affect eating and sleeping habits, and threaten overall life safety.


Children suffering from ASD can substantially improve their sensory processing abilities, learn robustly and develop permanent connectedness to their peers by receiving the proper therapeutic interaction within environments tuned to their specific sensory needs. 


The founding board members of APLUS are architects, special education teachers and social workers working with children with developmental delays.  We will share our expertise to identify the design elements impacting Autistic People Living in Urban Spaces to foster inclusion in our communities. 


Denise Arnold
  • LinkedIn Basic Black
  • Twitter Basic Black

I am an architect, urban designer, and accessibility code expert.  I design spaces that are inclusive, accessible, and adaptable to meet the current and future needs of my clients so that they can live gracefully. My role at APLUS is to raise grant monies and awareness of how we design for inclusion.  I will research ways to improve signage, lighting, noise mitigation and other environmental design elements to improve schools, libraries, transit stations - public spaces we rely on and need to participate in everyday activities and events.

Justin Somerville
  • LinkedIn Basic Black
  • Twitter Basic Black

I am a high school school teacher with experience in alternative education settings servicing children with special needs.  I work with young adults struggling to participate in main stream school activities.  I am an expert with behavioral mitigation techniques to help young adults make friends, cope with stressful situations, and achieve academic and life skills.  I teach college prep classes in calculus, physics, and language arts, and coach baseball.  My role at APLUS is to research educational programs and policies that affect learning and behavior.

Elizabeth Abelson
  • LinkedIn Basic Black
  • Twitter Basic Black

I am a special education teacher with expertise in visual impairment and mobility management. I have directed inclusive day camp programs for children with disabilities, making sure camp children with differing needs are included alongside their typically developing peers.  My role at APLUS is to find ways to better advocate for children with cognitive disabilities.  Inclusion is more than just being there.  My expertise will help organizations foster meaningful participation alongside and in conjunction with typically developing peers. 

bottom of page