2020 Annual Conference Keynote

AJ Paron-Wildes
Allied ASID, LEED AP ID+C, Associate Member IIDA, Associate Member AIA

In 1998, most people knew little about autism except for what they may have seen in the movie Rain Man.  That included AJ Paron-Wildes until her son was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of three.  In her quest to find answers for him, she quickly realized that he reacted very differently to the built environment which created more barriers for him to learn, speak and understand rather than enhancing his opportunities for growth.

Over the past 19 years, AJ has pioneered research that has not only helped her son but the hundreds of thousands of individuals like him.  As the incidence of autism have skyrocketed, so have the requests for design help from facilities. These spaces range from homes to hospitals, and schools to therapy clinics.  AJ’s goal was to not only create the research but to share it in an open-source way.  She has shared her learnings through authorship, speaking and workshops for designers and architects and has encouraged others to embark into researching design for autism as well.  

Over the years, Ms. Paron-Wildes has used her design expertise for a broad range of projects from a research center, to private doctor offices, classrooms and schools, and home environments.  Along with these diverse projects she has also handled a broad range of budgets.  From projects with full government funding to those completely dependent on upon donations, AJ has used her talents to improve the space and outcomes for users no matter the budget, impacting positive results for all.

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