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"autism" Tag

Unlocking interaction

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The interview I had, was with my uncle, who has a autistic son of 6 who doesn’t communicate with his parents.
This problem was my starting point. We talked about autism, communication and the relationships between father and son.
I did a research myself: I read a lot of books about autism and, that was very special, I explored my nephew’s sleeping room.
How does a room look like from a person who is autistic? What do I see, and find?
I observed my nephew in different situations: while playing (with his father) – being on his own – dinner

I saw the communication between parent and child in different situations, and what I saw was trilling, new for me. All the information I collected was interesting material for my design-assignment.
In playing situations (with his dad) I saw the boy open up to his father, they played.
Drawing was an interesting exercise to observe the communication between father and son.
I saw this observation after observation.

The idea of a design product began to develop: I want to make something (clothing, an object or whatever) to unlock “more” interaction between father and son.
For this, I did some research in the house they lived in. Are there any special objects for “autistic people”? How is there room structured?
What I found was quite interesting: a room full of drawings! The room was structured, but the one wall was made by my nephew, his wall.

This element of putting something on the wall and declare it your own, is an element I took with me in my research for making a design product.

I was convinced that I wanted to make clothing: but not this regular clothing, but something of his own! I remembered the/his wall. The question raised: Can I make a piece of clothing that has the same specific connection like he has with his bedroom wall?
Which material do I want to use?

I also made a t-shirt for the dad, a shirt which also unlocks interaction. The pieces on the shirt are moveable, they communicate. You can start a conversation after playing with this shirt. In practice, this shirt doesn’t really work out. It was too complicated, also the material was wrong, I will later explain why.


While exploring the last question I found out that the main material should be; paper, like the paper on his bedroom wall.

I made different kind of clothing: jacket, trousers, shoes and sleeves.
All the different kinds of clothing are tested, within the 3 situations: while playing (with father) – being on his own – dinner.
I observed.

I made a jacket for the father; a jacket where you can play on, I tested this one, but it was not the jacket I was looking for! It did not meant anything for the boy. Also: this jacket has buttons, which did not work out.


I found out that the idea of a jacket worked really well, especially during playing time. Now, I tested a paper jacket on the boy; he wore a paper jacket, suddenly he started drawing on it.

He even asked his dad to help drawing on his new paper jacket!
A simple idea unlocks an interesting situation here! They talked about what they where doing, what they were making and so on.


I asked myself many question about my position in this project. Am I part of the observations? Should I interact with the boy? What is my position when the final product is done? What is my position anyway!?
During all the observations and the process of making in general, I found out that my position is a silent eye, who watches what happens, observe, make notes and sketches.
When this part over, I have a crucial position: making a relevant design object for this “problem”. I have to unlock my creativity, and find, test, examine, and communicate the results and outcomes.
Reflection on this very last part is as important as the first part of the silent eye. Because when these two parts of the whole process don’t work together, the end result won’t be seriously.


I came up with an interesting leftover, a simple paper jacket full of interaction, ideas and meanings. A truly unique object.
I was glad with the result, but it was not the end result, yet. There were a view practical problems I had to solve: how many jackets do I want to make? What is the right size? How do I want to present it?
While working on all these questions I came up with my end result. I jacket, for little boys between 5-6, no sharp edges, and cut out of one paper.
The jacket is so made that when it is finished, you can unfold it, and hang it on you bedroom wall, your unique object. The conclusion is that with this very serious process, I described above, I came up with a joyful product, which fits my starting point: unlocking interaction.


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