Product design for children with NDD diagnoses
Abstract: Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) is a collective name for diagnoses such as ADHD, ASD/Autism, Tourette’s syndrome and language disorders. A child with these diagnoses has different deficits that can be divided into the following problem areas; Social interaction, Learning difficulties, Memory and motor skills, and Concentration difficulties. In order for these children to cope with their everyday lives, they need support in the form of assistive aid products or human care. This investigative work has been done in collaboration with Komikapp AB and focused on developing a product within the assistive technology industry. The goal was to design an assistive aid for children with NDD diagnoses that offers increased school performance. The work was planned through the design processes Double Diamond process and Design Thinking process and is placed within the framework of Eco Design. The project was initiated with literature studies on the different diagnoses together with what products were available on the current market. From the background research, conclusions could be drawn that the products were often considered to be large and bulky, stationary, non-discreet and had a childish appearance. It could also be stated that appreciated products were fidget toys that stimulate the user through tactile senses, such as stress balls. In addition, the product aid market for older children, those in their adolescence, was small. The decision was made to narrow down the target group for children in the higher stages of Swedish comprehensive school and that the problem area for the work should be focused on Concentration difficulties. The investigation was followed by a questionnaire sent to people who work or have worked within the teaching profession. Moreover, in-depth interviews were conducted with a principal at an NDD-adapted higher-stage school, an occupational therapist at Stockholm’s ADHD centre and five teaching assistants. After all the information was gathered, brainstorming methods were used to break down the chosen problem area, Concentration difficulties. A smaller subgroup to the problem area was observed and assumed to benefit the work from a course goal perspective. The new niche problem area was Time perception. Based on this choice, further market research was carried out on aids in the category of time perception. This was followed by ideation, which produced five concepts. Three of these were taken for further development after an evaluation. Common to all concepts was that the product would help the user perceive time by showing time, date and day as well as having features to set alarms and timers with a visual explanation of the remaining time. After workshops with three people in professions that deal with NDD diagnoses on a daily basis, and two design engineering students, the Flexitime concept was chosen. This concept was the watch that offered a discreet design and an option to also include a fidget function. The detailed design of the Flexitime watch began and further market research was done on today’s range of smartwatches. A survey was also sent out to young people between the ages of 12-16 to gain an understanding of what kind of design attracts the target group. The survey received 39 respondents and a 50/50 gender split which laid the foundation for the design methods used to achieve the exterior design. The watch’s inner design and user scenarios were designed for a final design proposal. The fidget feature and the navigation to set timers or to turn on/off the sound of the watch were determined. The final design proposal for the assistive product Flexitime was a discreet, user-friendly, simple watch designed for teenagers to use into adulthood. The watch had not only features to help the user understand and perceive time, but a fidget feature to tame restless fingers. The dial for navigating the watch’s menu also offered the ability to rotate freely and generate tactile stimulation through its structure. This investigative work and the final design proposal for Flexitime form a basis for further work.
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