L6- Under the Spectrum nm

The brief

“Whether it’s at school, work or in social settings, people with autism are often misunderstood. They often suffer discrimination, intolerance and isolation, resulting in many feeling excluded from everyday society.”

NHS Choices 2011

I have been given the task brief to create piece of informative design that teaches a selected audience about autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

The objective of the brief is to inform the audience of the common symptoms and consequences of everyday life of autistic individuals in order to enhance their understanding of the disorder so that they are more sympathetic towards such individuals.

The target audience can be children, teenager’s adults, parent’s teachers, social workers or any relevant party, so long as the final outcome raises knowledge and understanding of the disorder.

The final outcome is able to contain text, pictorial information, photographs, illustrations, tables, diagrams or infographics, and must be easily read by the intended audience.

Reaction to brief

I took on the challenge of this brief, as it permits me to research into an interesting topic, as well as create an informative design. Autism is seen as a misunderstood disorder; therefore the rationale behind this research project brief is too increase an audiences knowledge of the disorder.

The way I will go about this brief is to first:

  1. Research broadly into the subject area
  2. Reflect on findings
  3. Record, gather and structure research
  4. Distinguish my target audience and form of outcome
  5. Specific research related to this audience, content and form of outcome such as book, leaflet, poster, animation etc.
  6. Critically develop the appropriate design responses
  7. Produce the final outcome


First of all, I initially Googled ‘what is Autism’ to gain the general definition, so I could then research in to the subject further. I came across the website ‘Shine a Light on Autism’, which allowed me to gather a general knowledge for the subject as well as more in depth information.

What is autism?

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 13.35.40

  • ‘Autism is a group of complex disorders of brain development’
  • In May 2013, all autism disorders were merged into one name called ASD. Previously, they were recognised as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and Aspergers syndrome.
  • .Autism is a spectrum condition. This means that while all people with autism share certain difficulties, the condition affects each person differently.

Autism spectrum disorder?

There are five disorders classified under the umbrella category officially known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders, or PDD. As shown below, these are:

  • Autism
  • Asberger syndrome
  • Rett syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Who does autism affect?

  • Around 700,000 people may have autism, or more than 1 in 100 in the population.
  • The latest prevalence studies of autism indicate that 1.1% of the population in the UK may have autism
  • The prevalence of autistic diagnosis is on the increase
  • Around a third of people with a learning disability may also have autism.
  • found a mean of 5.5 males to 1 female in their research review.

These findings from the UK establish autism diagnosis is increasing and occur more often in males than females. As well as this, the 1 in 100 statistic suggests that it won’t be a question of of whether we will come into contact with someone with autism, the question will be when.


  • Most obvious signs of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism is a serious and lifelong developmental disability. Symptoms include difficulties such as:
  • social interaction- Those with the condition have difficulty recognising and understanding people’s feelings and managing their own, They may, for example, stand too close to another person, prefer to be alone, behave inappropriately and may not seek comfort from another person. This can make it hard for those with the condition to make friends.
  • verbal and nonverbal communication- People with autism have difficulty using and understanding verbal and non-verbal language, such as gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice, as well as jokes and sarcasm. Some might not speak, or have fairly limited speech. They may understand what people say to them but prefer to use alternative forms of communication, such as sign language.
  • repetitive behaviours
  • poor social friendship
  • impaired understanding of emotions
  • need for routine- The world can seem an unpredictable and confusing place to people with autism, which is why they often feel more comfortable with a fixed daily routine, so that they know what’s going to happen each day.
  • motor coordination and attention
  • Difficulties with imagination- People with autism have difficulty understanding and predicting other people’s intentions and behaviour, and imagining situations that are outside their own routine. This can mean they carry out a narrow, repetitive range of activities. A lack of social imagination should not be confused with lack of imagination. Many people with autism are very creative.
  • Behavioural issues- Tantrums and disruptive behaviour are common particularly when routine is disrupted.
  • Sensory sensitivity- People with autism may experience sensory sensitivity in one or more of the five senses – including sounds, sights, and smells – which they can find stressful. A person’s senses are either intensified (hypersensitive) or lack sensitivity (hyposensitive).
  • Physical health issues- physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances (digestive diseases)
  • Learning disabilities- People with autism may have learning disabilities that can affect all aspects of their life, from studying in school to learning how to wash themselves or make a meal.

Positive symptoms of autism

  • Excel in other subject- Some individuals with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
  • Focus on certain interests for long periods of time- Particular engagements in subjects
  • Logical thinkers
  • Dont judge others- How often do typical people fail to notice what’s in front of their eyes because they’re distracted by social cues or random chitchat? People on the autism spectrum truely attend to the sensory input that surrounds them. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness.
  • They tell the truth- We all claim to value the truth, but almost all of us tell little white lies. All, that is, except people on the autism spectrum. To them, truth is truth — and a good word from a person on the spectrum is the real deal.
  • Live in the moment- How often do typical people fail to notice what’s in front of their eyes because they’re distracted by social cues or random chitchat? People on the autism spectrum truely attend to the sensory input that surrounds them. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness.
  • Terrific memories- How often do typical people forget directions, or fail to take note of colors, names, and other details? People on the autism spectrum are often much more tuned in to details. They may have a much better memory than their typical peers for all kind of critical details.
  • Less materialistic- Of course, this is not universally true — but in general, people with autism are far less concerned with outward appearance than their typical peers. As a result, they worry less about brand names, hairstyles and other expensive but unimportant externals than most people do.

While some people with autism live independent lives, others may need a lifetime of specialist support. Autism can have a profound and sometimes devastating effect on individuals and families. Autism affects the way a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. However, in some ways autistic people posses qualities that we would desire and could never imagine obtaining. In a lot of ways, getting to know and autistic person would be very beneficial for learning and refreshing.

Causes of autism?

  • Not long ago, the answer to this question would have been “we have no idea.”
  • Research is now delivering the answers. First and foremost, we now know that there is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type of autism.

The Extreme Male Brain theory

This theory helps explains the heightened male characteristics of spacial awareness, systemising and lack of empathy reflected in autistic individuals characteristics. This is supposed because autistic individuals have an ‘extreme male brain’. Evidence has supported this with size differences between autistic children and male adults brain such as a smaller hypofalamus.

Heather Hazlett, in the department of psychiatry at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, and her colleagues studied MRI images of 38 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at 2 years old and compared them with the scans from 21 unaffected youngsters of the same age. All the children were scanned again at age 4 or 5, and at all stages, the children with ASD had on average 6% more total brain volume and 9% more volume in the cerebral cortex, the region of the brain that contains the “newest” sprouting of neurons and is responsible for everything from receiving signals and input from the environment to processing memory and attention.

The findings suggest that although autistic brains are bigger, their rate of growth is relatively normal, at least after age 2. Some time before 2, however, autistic children may experience a spurt in brain growth that is strongly linked to their later behavioral and developmental symptoms.

Even though it isn’t a fact that a spurt in brain growth is the cause, it is the strongest link currently and has opened many windows for scientist to understand the disorder. This also relates back to the statistic as to why 5-1 males are diagnosed with autism.


  • Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves.


  • Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.
  • The clearest evidence of these autism risk factors involves events before and during birth. They include advanced parental age at time of conception (both mom and dad), maternal illness during pregnancy and certain difficulties during birth, particularly those involving periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain.
  • A growing body of research suggests that a woman can reduce her risk of having a child with autism by taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid and/or eating a diet rich in folic acid (at least 600 mcg a day) during the months before and after conception.
  • Increasingly, researchers are looking at the role of the immune system in autism.
  • In the presence of a genetic predisposition to autism, a number of non-genetic, or “environmental,” stresses appear to further increase a child’s risk.
  • It is important to keep in mind that these factors, by themselves, do not cause autism. Rather, in combination with genetic risk factors, they appear to modestly increase risk.

The most logical theory for the cause of autism is the over development of the brain which causes the abnormal symptoms. This theory will have to mentioned in someway in the final outcome, as to understand something people (of any age) need an reason or explanation to understand something that isn’t normal. If   I fail to do this, I think the final piece will struggle to get others to symphaphise with people and the disorder.

Rain man

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.06.47

When car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns that his estranged father has died, he returns home to Cincinnati, where he discovers that he has an autistic older brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and that his father’s $3 million fortune is being left to the mental institution in which Raymond lives. Motivated by his father’s money, Charlie checks Raymond out of the facility in order to return with him to Los Angeles. The brothers’ cross-country trip ends up changing both their lives.

I was recommended to watch this film by a fellow colleague of mine. This film was inspiring, valuable  and informative to the research project. The diagnosed protagonist Ray was diagnosed with was ‘savant syndrome’ and his the symptoms Raymond demonstrated were:

  • Obsession over schedules
  • Struggles with emotions
  • Talented counting and  math skills
  • Sensitive to sound
  • Struggle to show emotions
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Eidetic memory
  • Minimal interest in socialising
  • Doesn’t understand the connect of money
  • Unusual way of talking
  • Little to no eye contact

Savant Syndrome is a rare diagnosis, which demonstrates the extremes of autism. Watching this moving film has demonstrated the difficulties discovered in the research . The way this film has moved me, has motivated me even more for this project. Autistic people are in fact gifted and are hugely misunderstood by others with little knowledge of the disorder, which can be quite harmful to individuals that don’t quite grasp the concept of society and their environment. What makes being autistic hard is the lack of understanding people have of it.

The brother was initially unsympathetic with his autistic brother, shouting at him and taking advantage of his gifts. However, as the film progressed he then developed an understanding and was sympathetic to Rays needs.

After witnessing how cruel an ‘understanding’ adult could be to another adult individual who was diagnosed with autism, I then began to consider the impact of children with a lack of understanding and knowledge could treat another child with autism.

Video- Autism and me

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 09.12.27

To gain further information of the impact autism has on children’s lives, I watched a BBC Documentary which included children talking about their disorders. Personally, this affected me and made me realise that a greater understanding of this discorded needs to be promoted among younger children so they grow up understanding autistic individuals, which would make diagnosed individuals lives a lot easier.

Throughout the video there was a number of diverse cases, which are under the same umbrella as autism. Using one label for the disorder I find quite cruel, as this inevitably makes it hard for the world to understand individual needs. However, due to higher ranks, this can’t not be changed and their is a need to try and teach others about this wide spectrum.

Throughout the video there were a number of cases, where children would describe the issues and symptoms. I recorded each individual case, so that I could potentially use this as a source of reference for my final outcome.

Case 1

  • Expressions of attachment and feeling to objects e.g picking shoes and others feeling left out
  • Cant say certain words- makes them feel unhappy or anxious
  • mixed senses- feel words/ taste words

Case 2

  • Stressed in crowds due to anxiety
  • feel like people a trying to hurt them

Case 3

  • Easily distracted
  • Easily annoyed
  • Cant be touched

Case 4

  • think hard for converssation (struggle to talk)
  • uncomfortable in crowds

Case 5

  • Obsessions with hobbies (hard thinking and clear rules makes them fell good)
  • Hobbies could last a decade
  • Needs everything to be organised
  • Struggle to socialize- don’t make friends

Case 6

  • Easily provoked with anger

Case 7

  • Cant talk
  • Wont have future independace
  • Will most likely be looked after all his life
  • Like things in certain places e.g turns sofas over and stuffs cushion behind TV
  • Feels stressed if the doors are closed

During the video their were certain lines and images that I picked upon, which have inspired potential imagery responses for the final outcome. Children described their feelings, which came with simple interesting visuals that represent them and their environments. The examples included:

  • ‘Children would call me names to make me angry like bear, which would anger me more’- draw an illustration of a child inside a bear, as other figures point and laugh

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.41.46

  • ‘Autism mixes the senses’- illustration of nose, mouth, ear, hand and eyes places in an unusual fashion/ use random squiggles to illustrate confusion

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.25.45

  • ‘Feel or taste words’- illustration of a child eating a word, making them feel uneasy/ Child hearing a word and feeling pain’
  • ‘Autism comes in all shapes and sizes’- imagery of children with different shaped head, using simple shapes

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.34.34

  • ‘Want everything to be organised’- child using tape measure to measure placement of objects

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.40.10

  • ’3 in 4 children feel anxious or unhappy’- simple illustration of 4 children, 3 being happy 1 being unhappy

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.46.20

  • 1 in 6 adults get a full payed job- ‘simple illustration of 6 adults, 5 being unhappy and 1 being happy

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.48.45

  • ‘Different- but well worth getting to know us’ This line I found inspiring and would like to somehow incorporate it into the final piece.

Article- Are you Joking or serious?

This article is written by someone who has autism, and tells her struggles of growing up and not understanding sarcasm and jokes. Not understanding sarcasm has an adverse effect on both the life of the diagnosed as well as anyone associated with them. An example she gave was when she was a child and came home crying, because her teacher said ‘billy shot the bird’ (Put up the middle finger).  Her parents had to reassure her that no birds had been killed by any students.

As well as this, being exposed to sarcasm confuses someone with autism, as they are constantly working out wether they should take the statement seriously or not. She explained that she had got in trouble on numerous occasions, due to her father sacristy parsing her for doing something wrong, when intact she did something that was considered wrong. She would then respond with a laugh and say thanks, which lead to a punishment. As well as this, when her aunt trying to advise her inn her safety by telling her ‘say no to boys’ in some instances. She did not quite understand what she meant, as she did not see boys as being dangerous at the time. She then explains that the occurrences of this ‘is for another blog post’.

Furthermore, the autistic woman said when she was a child, she would try use sarcasm herself. However, when she did, some instances would shock or scare her friends because she doesn’t quite understand tone of voice. She explained she would have people look horrified when she tried to tell a joke, however she was capable of being able to tell that she did not quite hit the mark. However, there are some autistic people on the spectrum who are unable too understand face expressions, which would add to this difficulty.

Adding to these struggles, was the fact that when she googled sarcasm under images, she would see images that said would relate people to being ‘idiots’. ‘mormons’ and ‘if I have to explain it again, its not funny anymore’. She found these words incredibly hurtful, and it made it difficult to have a conversation pretty much ever. It often made her think that these messages her directed at her personally, and that she is being made out to be oversensitive. She often thought that other people thought she was spoiling their fun.

Bullying a guide for parents

  • Children with autism can be at more risk of being bullied. One study of 400 children with Asperger syndrome found that the children were at least four times more likely to be bullied than their peers. This is often because the different ways in which children with autism communicate and interact can become more apparent to their peer group, especially as they get older.
  • Because children with autism find it hard to read facial expressions and body language, they can’t tell when someone is being friendly or if they are trying to hurt them. They also find it hard to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and therefore don’t understand another child’s intentions.
  • Children with autism may appear to be naïve and trusting, unable to discriminate between friendly approaches and those approaches which are intended to wind them up. A child with autism was offered two quarters in return for a dollar (double the money offered). The child with autism thought that this classmate wanted to be friends. Some children with autism will try to fit into their peer group by doing things other children suggest when bullies suggest things. It can often be something that can hurt the child with autism or get them into trouble with school staff.
  • A child with autism is an easy target in the playground as they often prefer to play alone in the playground. As a result, other children find it easy to pick on them as they do not have a support structure around them. Other children may also pick on children with autism if they see them doing ‘odd’ things such as hand flapping or making inappropriate comments.
  • Children with autism can also become a bully themselves. Some children will become aggressive when game is not being played the way they want and will try to take control  of the situation. They may also become frustrated at being left out in the playground and try to make children become friends with them.
  • 40% of children with autism have been bullied at school
  • 50% of children with autism are not in a school their parents believe best support them
  • 1-5 children with autism have been excluded from school many more than once

Previous Infographics

As a visual learner and also an admirer of visual communication graphics I critically chose to look at pervious infograohics made about the subject. Infographics help to gain an extra knowledge of a subject in a short period of time through extracting the key information and utilises some and creative images. Below are the given examples:

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 12.52.45 autism_ver2 Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 13.08.37 Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 13.08.51

a55fac825d491ebe06246b6fc08426c3 Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 13.27.40

These infographics have reflected a lot of the research I had already recorded. However what did put autism in perspective was the 2 bullying infographics.  Factual statements that stood out were:

  • 40% of children with autism have been bullied at school
  • 50% of children with autism are not in a kind of school their parents believe best support them
  • 1 in 5 children have been excluded from school, anymore than once
  • only 22% of teachers have been trained specifically in autism
  • 6/10 children with ASD say they have been bullied in a recorded month, whereas only 1/10 non autistic children  admit to being bullied.

Being a designer, I felt a need to design something that would tackle these astonishing facts and figures that I felt needed to be addressed. Through this research, I have critically chosen to primarily aim my project design response towards school children aged 7-8 . However, a sub aim of my final outcome I would like to incorporate is the try and involve teachers, as it is has come to my attention there is little knowledge of autism by current school teachers.

Critical Research reflection

Autism is complicated in the way it is possesses diverse symptoms as well as having no distinctive cause. Growing up with complex mixture of symptoms, causes many problems that is a vital part of growing up. Being targeted, ignored and misunderstood is hard for anyone, let alone a child at school.

As a result of researching the features, symptoms and causes of autism I began to gain a really understanding and real interest into this subject which lead to advance my research further to study films and documentaries. After watching the ‘Rain man’ this made me recognise my own knowledge on the disorder as I began to pick out elements of the film which were key features of autism such as the main character constantly needing a routine and having outburst of anger and distress. As well as this the other character was particularly rude and manipulative towards the autistic adult due to not understanding his condition. This lead me to wonder what it would be like for an autistic child’s life particularly in certain areas such as school where bullying is commonly undertaken. After this I came across a reading written from an autistic adult reflecting upon there past. Similar to my initial thought, the woman stated the kids at school were aware of her different behaviours and took advantage of them. The woman said as she lacked understanding of sarcasm and pupils at school would purposely tell her to do something to embarrass her and make fun of her in front of the class.

The symptoms are normally diagnosed between the ages of 2 or 3 years. This made me consider that diagnosis will inevitably effect the child’s experience in school, through other children around them not understanding why they act a certain way.

Ordinary school children as they become aware of others individual differences which occur around the ages of 9-10, nautarlly pick up on these differences and will inevitably treat the individual differently if they have no knowledge of ‘why their fellow pupil could be acting dissimilar to others. Bullying usually begins at a young age before they have had therapy to teach them more socially acceptable behaviors and before they learn social norms.  Most of the time the bullying that involves autistic children stems from their social abilities, communication abilities, and their repetitive habits.

Following this research I began to reflect on my own childhood experiences, and question whether I witnessed an individual being wrongly taunted. One instance does come to mind when I was in around 9, where a child was purposely mislead by other pupils to do things a typical child would not choose to do, such as telling the autistic child to say a rude comment to the teacher or messing around in the bin. Autistic children may not understand what they are being asked to do, which makes make them susceptible to bullying.

Because autistic children do not understand why they are being bullied and other children do not know why autistics (or other different or disabled children) are different, education is the key to the elimination of bullying.

As well as this, it has come to my attention through the research, that adults as close to an autistic child as a parent, also have little knowledge and understanding of their own child’s disorder. Another important role to a child is the teacher, who have little knowledge of the condition according to statistics. Autistic children have been wrongly accused of doing wrong, when simply they struggle to come to terms with social interaction and their environment. The spectrum being so large possessing many diverse symptoms some symptoms may be recognised by children and some teachers as being simply strange or naughty behaviour.

Reading this writing from an adult with autism and after watching the documentaries of children with autism personally affected me. It made me  recognise children from young schools should be taught from a young age about autism so that when they come across an individual either in school or outside they understand and sympathise with their condition and accept them. This ideology should help not only encourage understanding and knowledge for both teachers and students but also increase an autistic child’s experience at school so that they are more likely to be accepted and have friends as well as reduce bullying.

After my initial research of simply googling autism and discovering it was referred to under an umbrella of spectrum disorders the metaphor ‘umbrella’ immediately stuck inside my head as a visual image. Following this I looked into the common symptoms of autism such as deficits in social interaction, verbal communication and behavioural issues. After the learning this information I began to question what it would be like to live in the life of an autistic child. After watching ‘rain man’ this made me recognise my own knowledge on the disorder as I began to pick out key elements of the film which were key features of autism such as, the main character constantly needing a routine and having outburst of anger and distress. As well as this, the other character was particularly rude and manipulative towards the autistic adult due to not understanding the characters condition. This lead me to critically research what it would be like for an autistic child’s life, particularly in certain areas such as school where bullying is commonly undertaken. The research lead me discover documentaries on autistic children talking about the disorder and additionally a written piece from an autistic adult reflecting upon their past. This research highlighted the vulnerability autistic children are to bullying, which lead me to critically think about what needs to be done in under to spread the knowledge and understanding of autism. The aim of this project is to develop both pupils and teachers understanding of autism in order to ease transition for autistic children in school and enable them to develop friendships and avoid bullying.

At this point it was necessary to round up my research into basic bullet points for my final outcome,  to make a clear focus for my final project piece. This will also lead to further research so that I have a fully resolved design idea.

  • Informative piece
  • discuss autism in the respect of symptoms and its effects
  • Specifically aimed at young school children aged 7-8 to prevent bullying at 9-10
  • to teach children at a early age  the quality of understanding of other pupils differences (everyone is unique)
  • Sub aim- to provoke a response in uneducated teachers of parents and autistic disorder
  • Focuses on the subjects of inclusion, understanding and sympathy
  • Key to mention a cause a reason for autism (theory of overdeveloped brain)
  • Promote getting to know autistic children (what they can gain from knowing an autistic person)

My initial thoughts for creating such a informative design was this was going to be a rich and challenging project. To create such a design piece, I would have to somehow design something that would get school children to engage with the information, as well as understand the complexity of Autism. As well as this, I wanted to keep school teachers and parents in mind who had little knowledge of the disorder, as I would ideally like to provoke a feeling or response that is positive in understanding autistic individuals.

Initial project idea

After watching documentaries and looking into research this influenced my project ideas. Particularly after watching the programmes showing the young children talking about how autism affects them, this developed my initial ideas for transforming the research into narrative and designing a storybook for children to read at school.

To my own knowledge, story time at reception level is an important and successful way of teaching children, as it keeps them engaged with the narrative whilst promoting good life lessons. As well as this, it would also involve the teacher, giving me chance to somehow provoke a positive response from an uneducated teacher of Autism. However, at this stage this is just an initial idea, as other research need to be carried out first, which include:

  • What previous ways to to teach young children about autism?
  • Best ways to engage and teach children aged 7-8 ?
  • Is story time important for children?

Previous methods: teachings autism to children

Woodfer’s World

As a resource from Ambitious about Autism that helps teachers reduce the risk of bullying. The guide focuses on “neurodiversity”, and helps fellow students understand the differences in the way people think or perceive the world. It is designed to encourage peer awareness, social acceptance, empathy and inclusion for all children but in particular those whose behaviour is difficult to understand. Research has shown that more than 70% of children with autism are taught in mainstream schools and that 40% of those are bullied. The resource, which is suitable for children aged around eight, features a set of four stories with teacher’s notes and reflective questions. There’s also a list of ideas for taking the lesson further.

To obtain the resources I had to sigh up to TES to receive the teaching PDF material. Once I had signed up I was able to download the resource material. Below are screen shots of the material:

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.19.29 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.20.01 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.32.57 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.34.59 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.37.33 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.37.58 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.40.32 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.42.28 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 20.48.27

This strategy utilised the use of:

  • narrative
  • reward
  • family and parent engagement
  • set tasks

Once I had read through the material, I found the narrative stories were very well written as they were able to create potential scenarios and show autistic symptoms through the use of anthrapamorphic animals. The 4 stories included the symptoms of sensitivity of senses, preferability to be alone, love of routines, struggle to understand sarcasm. Throughout the fictional narratives there demonstrated some sort of misunderstanding, which then was later resolved through correct actions. Reading the stories myself, I felt strongly reflected the struggles of autism.

As well as this, there was a technique called the 9 diamond technique. This resource sheet was aimed at the parents of school children, to place given card statements and place them importance of importance of school life for their child. Statement included ‘receiving rewards’, ‘achieving high grades’ ‘making friends’ ‘be inclusive to others. I imagined that this task would be quite thought provoking, as I bet most parents would realise that their best interests of their child would be to get good grade rather than be kind to others.

Another feature of this teaching approach included a task and reward sheet, which featured him or school challenges. The sheet included task that would be given out by parents to their children to receive rewards in the form of stickers. Tasks included:

  • learn and write something about a family member you don’t really know
  • help someone join in with a game
  • make up you own story (relating back to the given stories
  • play with some they have never played with before
  • observe and listen to understand someone else’s behaviour

It is not unknown that children like to perform task in the act of receiving something rewarding in return. This system has been used for many years in school, and reflects later life. ‘If you work hard, the rewards will be great.’

Overall, I have gained some inspiration for how I can utilise different features to engage a young audience with the topic of autism. Narrative seems to be a key way to get children involved with complex topic areas, so critically I think I will use this feature in my final piece. As well as this, I will also consider what adoptions I can make to get children to actually carry out the lessons they will learn form the information piece.

Autism Worksheet

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 21.40.17  Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 21.40.38 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 21.41.25

These work sheets utilise a range of of thought provoking question that manage to create understanding from a child. This is successful in the way that they question the reader about their own abilities swell as how they currently look at others. One example I found was particularly strong was asking:

‘If a person uses a wheelchair, you know they have difficulty walking. If someone is blind, you know they cannot see. These people have disabilities. Autism is a special kind of disability.’

Again like the previous approach there is a use of a reward scheme, where if a child achieves target aimed they are rewarded with stickers and inevitably a bigger prize once complete. Critically, I will consider to implement this features within my final design.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 22.33.52

Even though this poem is not that detailed, it still makes the reader sympathetic towards the person with autism. Rhyme does indeed make the story much more engaging, as you naturally want to listen for the last word at the end of the sentence. I will consider using rhyme in my final piece if it will enhance the story narrative.

Overall these methods of teaching young children about autism are creative, however I think there could be further development in which these methods could be implemented into their school environment. A child can story easily choose to ignore a story book, children can easily choose not to listen to the teacher, creating work task for the classroom could possibly seen as a chore and their is a liabiltiy of parents to comply with given home tasks.  According to an article named ‘Every child is a scientist‘, they discovered that young children

‘acquire causal knowledge through exploration… their mode of playing is really a form of learning, a way of figuring out how the world works.’

Here I saw this as the angle for my project. Critically I had to now consider how I might somehow get children to choose and explore the topic of autism themselves, through the ‘phenomenon of exploratory play’.

Importance of telling stories

According to the article “12 Important life lessons we learned from Children’s Books”:

“The books you were read — and then triumphantly learned to read yourself — when you were a kid impart some of the most insightful and worthwhile life lessons. Through them we learned about friendship, love, adventure, acceptance — all the things that still challenge us as adults. There’s a reason some children’s books stick around for generations: Their time-tested morals endure. If you find yourself feeling word- or world-weary, books for kids may offer just the right fix. They’re chock full of lessons that can give us some needed wisdom and perspective, even when viewed through the lens of our grown-up lives.”

An example this post gives is the book called ‘The Rainbow Fish’. This book I fondly remember reading as a child, however I never considered it taught me the life lessons of community and value of generosity. Ithen began to consider other books I read from personal experience as a child, which i then discovered what meanings they carried behind them.

rainbow fish

Where the wild things are- Don’t judge someone o something by its appearance/ there is no place like home

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 19.23.15

Stinky cheese man- Dont be afraid to question cultural  principles

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 19.23.24

Madeline- There’s nothing wrong with stepping out of your straight line every once in a while.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 19.29.03

There are probably man other story books I read as a child that I can’t remember that have shaped me into who I am today. Simply typing in life lessons from children books on Pintrest brought up a lot book titles that carried a lot of important teaching such as ‘THE “CAN” IN CANCER’.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 19.01.07


Sitting in Cafe Nero

Whilst i was enjoying a coffee on one of my breaks, I stumbled across some children books which took my interest. Sitting their I scrolled though the books to and gained some vital knowledge when it comes to writing up my own narrative

  • Use appropriate and simplistic language
  • Themes a note specially made apparent
  • Doesn’t specifically explain the lesson learnt, rather left up to child to interoperate
  • Stories are typically built around conflict with the main protagonist
  • The main character grows and learns
  • Action is instantaneously created at the beginning
  • Third person is generally used
  • Characters are made able to identify ourselves within them
  • Characters are identifiable in one way or another (appearance, phrase)
  • Setting are either interesting or familiar
  • Dialog is used consistently though out


FullSizeRender (6)

Critical Reflection for design development

However, after undertaking the idea to create a storybook for children at primary schools, I began to realise that the theory had already been undertaken numerous times in the past. This then lead me to reflect upon the research I had undertook in order to develop a new innovative creative idea to spread the importance of understanding this disorder at an early age.

However, I felt I had enough research on the topic of autism to then begin to critically develop a new project brief as well as consider developing a project idea and outcome.

New Project Brief

“It’s okay to be different from others”



Design an interactive game for primary school Key stage 2 children to take part in within the school.

The current issue is the elevated vulnerability to bullying for autistic children.

The resolution to this is to increase understanding of the disorder for the teachers and young pupils to learn so that when an autistic pupil is enrolled at the school they are less likely to receive unfair treatment and more likely to enjoy school and develop social friendships which in turn can develop communication skills.

It is evident children learn through kinaesthetic methods of learning such as games and activities which involves them to interact with the game which simultaneously will enhance their learning.

The final outcome will want to promote inclusion as well as reduce bullying within public schools

Next Step



First of all I read over the conclusions and reflection points I had previously made after gathering numerous researches among the topic area to clearly focus on developing the project response.


This mind map enabled me to make clear specific points and ideas of what I need to consider and include within the interactive game design.


100 Design ideas

Following the success from level 5 of receiving a 1st for Audience and Context and the strong solution to the Sheffield report brief, I again decided to use the technique of creating 100 design ideas from a list of key concepts. The procedure follows:

  • create a list of key concepts
  • at random pick words without thinks
  • complete one drawing per 30 seconds

Following this, the key design ideas that rose from the pile of 100 designs was; umbrella type, wall graphics and colourful heads.

Type-make the design interactive with kids I came up with the idea for the children to place umbrellas inside a canvas to spell out the word autism. The canvas will include holes which when the children place the umbrellas within them, it will spell out the word autism.

Wall graphics-As a result of the research aiding my understanding that autistic children struggle communicate, make friendship’s and understand emotions I decided to make silhouettes of children. These images contained written texts in first person which reflects different scenarios presented in doodle writing/ a child’s stereotypical hand writing. These graphics will be places on areas around the school premises.

Colourful heads-When undertaking research, investigating into autism infographs, and the causes of autism, a repetition of an image of a head was highlighted. This was discovered due to the theory of ‘extreme male brain’ explaining the reasons as to why autism occurs. These image lead to me choose to design a silhouette of a head. Additionally after understanding autism was under a spectrum of disorders and creating a mind map, this contributed to the idea of utilising a spectrum of colours. This than lead me to choose the idea of utilising silhouettes of heads in a variety of colours which additionally is appropriate to the target audience due to the design being eye-catching and colourful.

Wall silhouettes

Having researched and understood symptoms of autism and learn about the experience autistic children have with social interaction I was able to create scenarios that express both symptoms and the struggles of having autism in everyday life.

This lead me to design silhouettes of children which reflected the scenario the text was stating.

Children who will come across the images which voice the experiences of autistic children should aid understanding and develop their knowledge of specific symptoms and feelings autistic children commonly possess. This would hopefully condition the understanding of symptoms of the disorder which should encourage acceptance and sympathy towards autistic children which in turn should reduce the likelihood of bullying and encourage the formation of friendships between atypical and typical children.


Silhouette of heads and umbrellas

The brain development disorder (autism) is obviously hard for a young child to understand, however it is able to visually express and integrate basic knowledge about the disorder into children. Creating the mindmap lead me to express numerous ideas which relate to children and learning. It was clear the design idea had to be quite clear, simply and effective in order to express the message across which is enhancing the understanding of symptoms of autism in children. This lead me to design a silhouette of a head with an image of a jigsaw piece missing from the head. Additionally I utilised the idea of mini umbrella sticks related from the disorder which would be placed above the silhouette of the head image. This indicates that the developmental brain disorder is under the umbrella spectrum. The umbrellas are numbered underneath to which then they place the umbrella in the correct allocated space on the blank canvas. After completing the interactive game and placing the correct umbrellas within the correct holes on the blank canvas the word autism will be spelt out in an array of colours which emphasises the term spectrum disorder.


Wall Silhouettes 

I first drew silhouettes of children on illustrator, which represent different scenarios that reflect symptoms of Autism. I then printed copies of the silhouettes so I was then able to to write phrases within the spaces, to then be source to speak out for autistic children. The phrases explain using 1 person simple language, why the child may act a certain way. After doing this, I then rescanned the images back into illustrator to make clean vector images that would be printed life-size. The colour scheme chosen emphasises that ASD is a spectrum disorder, being the colours of the rainbow.

FullSizeRender (10)

FullSizeRender (11)

FullSizeRender (12)




FullSizeRender (10)

FullSizeRender (1)


Silhouette heads

The silhouette of heads I previously explained would be the umbrella holders, to show that the disorder is a mental disorder is under the spectrum. To create the head images I dew a head on illustrator then printed it out onto acetate. I then used the laser cutter to cut a clear + white acrylic heads the same size of the acetate images, so that then I could produce the holders. Do to time access and time constraints I was unable to create the MDF backing that would hold the umbrellas. For the purpose of completing the project, I made a mock up without creating the MDF head. To hold heads together I simply cut holds in accurst areas using the laser cutter, then hand screwed a screw at the top and bottom of the head design.

FullSizeRender (1)

FullSizeRender (7)




To understand the mechanisms in order to make mini umbrella’s, I simply bought cocktail umbrella sticks and dismantled the top of the umbrella. I was bale to produce my own simple using coloured tissue paper, card and cocktail sticks. Since the project was mainly a concept I only made one umbrella as an example. Ideally I would have like to of made the all the different variations of colour umbrella, that kids would place within the white acrylic panels to spell out Autism. The umbrellas a numbered underneath so that they can place them in the correct place on the numbered bored.




IMG_3829 (3)


Acrylic panels

I then had to laser cut the 3 variations of panels. I created these layouts using illustrator. On the actual design I would etch the separate numbers unearth the holes on the panels, so the children are able to place the umbrellas in the correct places.


(A, U, T, S)


Example of umbrella placed within the acrylic panel


Finished design/concept/ walkthrough of design

This section will walk through the design/ how the child will use it within the school element.

The concept of the design is to get children from an early age to sympathise and understand Austism Spectrum disorder. It accomplishes this by using:

  • Symbolism- rainbow colours/ umbrellas reflect the term ‘spectrum disorder’
  • Phrases within life-size children silhouette posters of children. The silhouettes are of children who have autistic disorder. Previously distinguished, autism children struggle to communicate so do not have a chance to explain why they may act certain ways. The posters give that opportunity using simple language and hand written type.
  • Placed by the sides of the posters silhouettes will be umbrella holders in the shape of heads. The holder itself also teaches children about autism, however this knowledge will be taken further into their growing live to understand. The heads express its a mental disorder thought the jigsaw piece marked where it is theorised what part of the brain if affected. As well as this, the top of the head contains the umbrellas used to place within the acrylic panels by the children. That image itself expresses that the mental disorder is ‘under the spectrum’.
  • The numbered umbrellas placed within the numbered acrylic panels should spell out the word autism. This makes for a striking visual of the word ‘AUTISM’ spelt out with coloured umbrellas.  The colourful and unusual design should stick within the minds of children, and in later life ay question and understand the design of using coloured umbrellas.

Step by step example

1. The different poster designs and paired heads and umbrellas are placed around the school, as well as the acrylic boards. A child stumbled across poster design with the designated colour head and umbrellas. This one example expresses a child sitting alone with the phrase

‘I find it hard to make friends because I am not very good with my words and I struggle to know your feelings’

This example I imagined being placed in the cover of a playground, to show that the child in the picture feels isolated.

2. Once the child has read the design, he or she then takes numbered umbrella from the head holder.


3. The numbered umbrella is then placed by the child within the numbered hole on the acrylic board.


4. Once all umbrellas are discovered and the children learn to sympathises and understand the disorder, the design will be completed and spell out the word ‘AUTSIM’.