The images are from my latest collaboration with Spurvetoften, a home for 37 autistic adults in Brejning, Denmark. The collaboration is part of my PhD project at Design School Kolding. Together with staff from Spurvetoften I presented my idea of an accessory approach, on how to design wearables for autistic adults. A wearable can help guiding an autistic adult, with a user-friendly interface, showing daily routines and actions hereof. As part of a co-design methodology, staff from Spurvetoften started a process of identifying favourite personal accessories, among the autistic adults, to start creating prototypes. In this case the co-design action is taken out with the staff, as they are considered everyday experts.
To get insight into these personal preferences, and as part of an empathic design agenda, the staff worked with three adults. An investigation on their favourite accessories led to material investigating of similar qualities and preferences in new materials. The accessory approach is found relevant, as both accessories and wearables are worn closely to the body. The approach can furthermore inspire a designer to look more holistically at the person designing for.
It was really interesting to see how the staff at Spurvetoften had worked with creating prototypes based on the material investigation, and what insights that could be made based on the wearables.
These prototypes might not seem relevant, just looking at the images, but from the accessory approach, the staff located individual touch experiences and material preferences, transforming these into tangible tools, to build insights from.
The idea about the prototypes was to create and collect new insight to feed a second iteration workshop, that then should come up with 3-5 general wearables for adults with autism. This to foster a human-driven approach, rather than a technology-driven approach, such as Spurvetoften should equip its autistic adults with e.g. smart watches.
The research project is being transformed into an academic paper. In this favour, big thanks goes to the staff from Spurvetoften for their courageous practices of creating prototypes that could benefit the future design processes of designing wearables to fit into the every-day life of an autistic adult!