OutsideTheBox

Goal

Our overarching goal in the project is to 

explore new roles of ubiquitous computing technology in the lives of children with autism. 

We will pursue this goal by reversing the traditional perspective of assistive technology. Instead of making the limitations of children with autism the starting point and using technologies to "help" mitigate those, we put wellbeing and positive experiences in the centre of our attention. We develop technology that empowers children with autism and builds bridges between their lives and the lives of their social peers. 

Die deutsche Zusammenfassung des Projektes aus dem Forschungsantrag

The english abstract of the project from the grant proposal

Methods

Shifting the attention from limitations to a holistic understanding of wellbeing and experience requires a significant shift in design methodology too. It is no longer enough to identify requirements and engineer solutions. As designers and researchers we do not know what roles of technologies could be meaningful in the lives of children with autism. Consequently, to explore this unchartered territory, we need to let children with autism lead the design process. 

In this project we will implement six different participatory design approaches to enable children with autism to invent their own technological artefact. These will include Co-operative Inquiry, Digital Fabrication and Theatre workshops amongst others. In a series of workshops we aim to facilitate a co-design process that allows children with autism to express themselves creatively. The design brief is deliberately kept wide open for children to truly steer where this process is taking us. It has only two fundamental requirements: 

  1. applications afford meaningful and positive experiences within the life-worlds of children with ASC and

  2. they support children in sharing these experiences with their social environment. 

Scientific objectives

Following from the overall goal our hypothesis is that:

facilitating a child-led exploration of the UbiComp design space leads to novel applications for children with ASC that emphasise positive experiences and wellbeing while providing appropriate levels of support and intervention. 

This hypothesis is translated into three specific objectives:

  1. formulate a theoretical framework that underpins our approach,

  2. develop a conceptual space populated with evaluated design methods, and 

  3. realise case studies and evaluate the resulting prototypes