At Morgan Autism Center
For my senior capstone project, I developed a product that facilitates independence in personal hygiene for individuals with developmental disabilities. My team focused on young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as our user group and conducted extensive research and interviews with over 40 educators, parents, health professionals and individuals with autism to determine the scope of our product. One of the most frequent unfulfilled needs we heard revolved around maintaining healthy and consistent hygiene habits for teens and young adults.
Not only is hygiene a necessary life skill, but it is also a deeply intimate one. We found that many of the teenagers/young adults we spoke to resented their parents involvement in showering or going to the bathroom, but needed this intervention to effectively complete the task at hand. Likewise, parents felt extreme frustration regarding their involvement in such tasks, and brightened at the thought of a product that may lighten the load and help their child become more independent.
In order to solve this problem we started by building an interactive shower dispenser set, which included automatic dispensers and visual and auditory aids that time the shower and guide the user through each step. We arrived at this solution through a series of prototypes, which we regularly tested with our users and showed to parents, therapists and other involved parties. We worked very closely with Morgan Autism Center (MAC) and regularly tested products with a group of adults at MAC. Our interactive shower set idea eventually morphed into an app when we realized the budget and time restraints of building this dispenser were not feasible. We realized that the greatest value add of our product was not the dispenser itself, but the customizable visual cues the app component enables.
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