Dustin is my 30 year old autistic brother. He was born with little to no oxygen in his body and had 2 open heart transplants in the first 10 years of his life. Growing up, I always said that if a Magic Genie ever granted me 3 wishes, I’d only need one. Help my brother be ‘normal’. I’ve come to realize that there is no such thing as normal and in fact, he is more normal than I am. But at least I could help him mildly communicate what he wants/needs. Help make his life a little less stressful. This device is the solution to this internal struggle I’ve been having and the life my brother has dealt with for 30 years.
Dustin’s favorite past time is laying down and watching TV in his room. He loves it. This takes up 50% of his day and while he has developed a language that him and my mom understand slightly, it takes much effort and time to get his thoughts out into actions or words. In designing this experience for him I learned much more about him then I had known. This device had to be simple to use, not intimidating at the sight of it, iconographic language and a similar textile to what he is used to in his everyday life.
Living on his wall, he will be able to hit one of the buttons and send a text message to that actions dictated recipient. The choice to use arcade buttons in the design was due to their large size which minimize errors and incorrect button hits. Also, they are a familiar textile to him. Playing video games everyday, it’s something he’s comfortable with which is really important in someone who is autistic. The metallic surface is smooth to his touch and the all white external shell is soft on his eyes. The iconography language is very similar to the graphics he was shown in school and the everyday objects/feelings associated with them. A universal language you could say.
I am currently working on a video to show it in place and working as intended for him. Future plans for this device are to build a back end system where my parents can go in and change the icons, as well as the meaning behind the buttons. This way, as he learns and that communication barrier is broken he can go to the next word he has trouble with. A bit smaller and more sleek design as well. Any suggestions would be welcomed. Thanks for viewing.