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TOUCH * PLAY is an ongoing project which explores how technology could be used to enable children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions to play, expl… Read More
TOUCH * PLAY is an ongoing project which explores how technology could be used to enable children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions to play, explore and express their emotions and feelings through their senses. The current devices and system were developed along with Roberts family, which sound can be recorded by pushing a button. The only way to playback the recorded sound is to touch another person, requiring cooperation and interaction with others. Project by Lingjing Yin and Mark McKeague Winning Project of Helen Hamlyn Design Award 2011 Read Less
Published:
TOUCH*PLAY- Research into Autism




Sarah Roberts is 13 years old and has been diagnosed with autism in 2002, meaning she finds fundamental aspects of social interaction and communication difficult. Sarah is extremely musically talented, she has played piano since a very early age and has perfects. This device allows her to explore and understand the world of people through her senses of sound and touch.  

"Autistic children have no sense of themselves and what they are. Life with an autistic child brings unique challenges.”  
-- Alison Roberts, Sarah’s Mom
What is Autism:
Autism affect more than 580,000 people in the UK. It is a lifelong neurological and complex condition that affects the way a person perceives and interacts with other people and the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means while all people with autism share three main areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in very different ways. Some are able to live relatively ‘everyday’ lives; others will require a lifetime of specialist support. However, everyone living with the condition shares a difficulty in making sense of the world and exhibits difficulties in three main areas.
Ther are. (known as the ‘triad of impairments’) 
Difficulty of Social Communication

Difficulty of Social InteractionDifficulty of Social Interaction
Difficulty of Social ImaginationDifficulty of Social Imagination
The Aim of the Project:
- To look at autism from a design point of view in order to understand how design could benefit autism and people who lives around them.
- Exploring whether machines can augment social interactions in a way that improves human to human communication.
- Developing novel sensors and algorithms that measure and communicate a range of natu rally-evoked, affective-cognitive states
- Develop communication skills to benefit them as well as people who lives around them. - Bespoke Device for specific group due to the complicity of ASD.

The Process:
This project took a people-centred design approach to research, interview, test with autistic child and their family at their home as well continues research and interviewing experts. An understanding of their needs, constrains and aspirations was extract from observations and their stories. Later on, key insights and patterns of behavior were extracted from the data leading to the development of the working prototype- TOUCH*PLAY seen here. 

Feedback:

-- Alison Roberts, Sarah’s mom

-- Mike Biddle, Technology Strategy Board, Judge's Comment

With Deepest Thanks to:
Sarah Robert and her family, Tania Batzoglou, Joe Wensley, Andrew Brand, Yanki Lee
Nordoff Robbins- Music Transforming Lives
Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design
Technology Strategy Board