Mars/ Storytelling

Designing a world that works for autistic children

Servier is dedicated to better understanding the abilities, needs and challenges of children and teens with autism spectrum disorders and developing new therapies that help them improve their communication and social skills. To ensure that research processes are both productive for researchers and comfortable for young patients, Servier asked for our help in making the doctor’s office a bit less scary and a lot more familiar.

 

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Fighting uncertainty with design

For a child with autism spectrum disorder, uncertainty is the biggest bogeyman, whether it’s about their next activity, next day or a new social situation. To reduce anxiety, parents are advised to use visual communication cards which explain what is going to happen throughout the day, week or a single activity.

Full of unfamiliar tools, faces and experiences, physical exams can put a huge pressure on a child with special needs. That’s why Servier and the then president of Autism Europe asked us to come up with a visual aid that makes medical examinations less intimidating and more engaging for kids on the autism spectrum.

 

 

The doctor's visit demystified

The end result was an activity book that lays out what happens in the examination room so kids will have no problem following what comes when and why. We closely studied Servier’s research process, from arrival at the reception area through physical exams to blood sampling, to make sure that each step is portrayed as accurately as possible and with the least amount of variables. 

 

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Playing it safe: design challenges

Removing steps that might be left out or performed differently during the examination process was one of the project’s biggest challenges. Followed by the task of designing characters that the children can easily recognise and identify with.

Given that Servier’s researchers have been building a large representative sample to obtain accurate medical data, the latter proved to be especially difficult. For the main character, we decided on a teenager who looks just the right age for the age groups targeted.

Whether the examination would be performed by a male or female doctor, however, wasn’t something we could anticipate. To avoid any confusion or discomfort, we came up with a gender-neutral character.

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'Thanks to our projects together and their curiosity, TRAFIK gained a comprehensive knowledge of autism. Their understanding of people living with ASD and their expertise in design assured that what we developed now provides crucial support for autistic children and their families. With TRAFIK, we could help autistic people to understand the world around them a little bit better. And in their case, even a little bit could mean a lot.'

daniel budai

Zsuzsanna Szilvasy

Founder of Mars Foundation,
President of Autism Europe

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