This is a blog about design from my perspective as an autistic person (tentatively diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disability). I cover both design issues for autistic users, and particular designs I happen to like (while trying to give reasons why they may appeal to other autistics). I’m not a professional designer, just someone who likes what he sees as good design. My perspective as a design-minded autistic may be of interest to others (particularly autistics and those designing for them).
Any estimate of the autistic population is controversial, but according to the CDC about 1 in 68 children in the United States has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and the percentage has been rising (see chart below). That may seem a low percentage to some, but there’s a large overlap between the special needs of autistics and senior citizens (for instance, compared to the average person many individuals in both groups tend to have poorer coordination, and are more easily confused by audio-visual stimuli).
Add the ASD and Senior demographics together, and you have a large consumer base for designs specific to their shared needs. In addtition, the percentage of persons aged 65 or older is projected to climb rapidly throughout the developed world. In many cases, the designer’s ‘typical user’ profile may need to be modified to account for the growing ASD-Seniors market share, and this can often be done without compromising the general appeal of the product.
For some autistics, reading can be a chore, especially if they have other conditions like ADD that often accompany autism. Blinkist is a useful service that summarizes popular non-fiction books into small chunks you can read in about 15 minutes, on your computer, tablet or smartphone. It’s a subscription service, but they offer a free trial. Try it out here!
“Ten common neurobehavioral characteristics of NLD are described below, along with suggestions for teacher intervention which should be considered when developing an individualized educational plan for the student with NLD. The suggestions given are general and should always be adapted to the unique needs of the individual student in your care. ”
“Yes, I can hear you whispering two offices away through closed doors. Just like I can hear washing machines three doors down on my road or my partner opening a plaster. Yes, I know my eye contact is poor, but don’t bully me into making it. And do not touch me. It makes my skin burn so I’d rather you didn’t. Yes, I do have very rigid routines and travelling alone is difficult, but I manage. I need you to understand that these things may seem crippling to you, but actually I have a pretty good life. A couple of good friends, partner, planned holiday and a mix of interests.”
People with autism are less likely to be influenced by marketing ploys when choosing between consumer products.
People with autism are thought to focus more on detail and less on the bigger picture.
A new research has revealed that adults with autism disorder may show more consistent choices in high-level decision-making tasks and are less likely to show a cognitive bias because they are not influenced by the way choices are presented. The findings indicate that individuals with autism are less susceptible to the effects of decoy options when evaluating and choosing the “best” product among several options relative to individuals without autism.
“People with autism are indeed more consistent in their choices than the neurotypical population. From an economic perspective, this suggests that people with autism are more rational and less likely to be influenced by the way choices are presented,” said George Farmer, psychology researcher at the University…
This post started life as a cynical attempt at clickbait. I was intending to just make a bunch of stuff up in the hope you’d come here and, er, do what exactly? Read it, I guess. Didn’t really think this one through, did I?
By Lisa Ackerman Hi April! You’re back! My 17th autism awareness month is kicking off in hours. (Yes, I am tracking the hours!) Here we go again! This is a great opportunity to dig in, inspire and motivate our community to move awareness into action for this April. Many diseases and conditions have […]
Image source – Wikimedia; Public Domain: click here for details
“I was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in my 40s. Like many adults who’ve slipped through the diagnostic net due to being high-functioning, born too early, or simply female, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out the lifelong social and sensory difficulties of autism. That none of us wake up cured at 18 still appears to mystify some professionals. That we might still benefit from some support, however late the diagnosis, does too. A late diagnosis of autism meant I struggled with the alien codes of small talk and office politics – until I started work at an autism charity”
Image source – Wikimedia; public domain: Click here for details
“Lost and directionless, I bounced from one job to the next – my part-time work included time at a call centre, a property developer and a posh dating agency – but I was left feeling exposed and alone by complicated office politics, illogical workplace rules and the sensory overload triggered by fluorescent lighting, ringing phones and the background hum of conversation.”
ASAN – Autism Self Advocacy Network
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for Autistic people, to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to educate communities and improve public perceptions of autism.
Life With Disability
Nice blog by Whitney Gilliland, on living with her Nonverbal Learning Disability.
Odd Girl In: Psychology Today
A blog by Pia Savage: a writer, journalist, and former social worker diagnosed with Non Verbal Learning Disorder (NLD) as an adult. She writes mainly about NLD and her experience with it.