Mobile phones, the Internet, Games... Technology has become a integrated part of our lives. A new generation of digital natives is growing up for whom computers have nothing to do with work or the office, but for whom technologies have become a ubiquitous companions in their pockets or on their wrists. Their social life is organised online, they play, search and find on the go. People are pervasively connected, when ever and where ever they want.
Children with autism typically have a strong affinity to technology. Computers are more predictable, more structured and easier to "use" than people. Computers do what they are told and follow rules - not always the easiest of rules, but always the same. Autistic children who withdraw themselves socially, open up to technology and there is a chance of engaging them. Research has shown that technology supported interventions is a promising route for therapy.
However, there is also the danger that children are further isolated by the use of technology and reduced to their deficits. Skills might be taught in virtual environments which become useless in the real world.
This is where this project wants to make its contribution. We want to create technology which
fits into the daily life of children with autism and is meaningful for them,
that is fun and provides opportunities to make positive experiences,
which engages the child as a whole and does not reduce it to their deficits,
which bridges their lifeworlds with those of their social environment.
To create such technology, we have to work together with the children - they are the true experts of their lives. As researchers and designers we create technology for the needs and desires of our users. But what do children with autism want? What ideas have they for meaningful roles of technologies in their lives? These are the questions we seek answers for.
We invite children, their parents and other carers to design the technologies of the future. Together we will create a smart thing that is different in all the ways we listed above. Because we do not know what will come out of this process, we call it a smart thing for now. Because children have created it through their ideas.
Interested? We are always looking for families who would like to participate in our project. Please contact us and we would love to tell you more about the project in person. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - Telephone: +43 1 58801 18793