My mission is to develop an effective way for autistic children to self-manage their stereotypic/self-stimulatory behaviours in an educational setting.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects nearly one in every one hundred-fifty children born in the United States. Children are typically diagnosed between the ages of two and three, but it can be detected as early as twelve to eighteen months.
Some of the common characteristics of an autistic individual include impairments in social behaviour, including both verbal and non-verbal communication; a resistance to change in routine and insistence on sameness; and a preoccupation with objects/movements often exhibited through atypical play patterns and self-stimulatory behaviours (stereotypy).
There have been several methods documented to curb and/or stop stereotypy in the autistic community, most of which teach the child that his/her behaviour is wrong. My view is that the behaviour is not wrong, but rather needs to be practiced in moderation. The design proposal I have developed is intended to teach the child self-management of these behaviours as an alternative to discouraging them. This is necessary because repetitive behaviours give the child a sense of safety and security. It is important, however, to manage stereotypy as it distracts the child significantly from engaging in the environment around them.
My ultimate goal for the product I am designing is to enhance the quality of life for the autistic community. While my specific mission is to target stereotypic behaviours, I feel that the development of this product is one of many steps that need to be taken to promote independence and confidence within each individual.