Designing for children with sensory processing disorders

Louise R. Manfredi, Bekir Kelceoglu

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Complex design issues require a multi-disciplinary approach. Building an environment where students can work with experts from different fields can be incredibly beneficial to not only the students working to solve the problem but also for the intended user of their work. This approach was piloted in a Human Factors for Designers class at Syracuse University, centering on the topic of sensory processing disorder (SPD). Specifically, students focused on sensory processing in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how they can be over-or under-responsive to tactile, auditory, or visual stimuli. Five groups of three students enrolled in the industrial and interaction design program spent six weeks learning from a variety of experts who work on SPD, then employing their design and engineering skills to find solutions to existing problems. The specific research goal was to learn about the connection between sensory processing and behavior from a team of academic neuroscientists and local occupational therapists who support the children and their families. In addition to these experts, students spent time with the education director of a local science and technology museum to learn how the museum temporarily reworks exhibits to accommodate children and parents affected by SPD. Using this research as a foundation, students were required to design either a toy or a therapeutic device to solve a problem they had encountered. The toy was required to possess educational value, and the therapeutic device needed to offer a function that facilitated interaction between the parent and their child. A working physical prototype, presentation, and process book were required deliverables. Experts provided feedback about the designs to the professor solely for the evaluation of the course. In addition to detailing the outcomes of the project, this paper discusses the merits and drawbacks of short timeframe multi-disciplinary teaching collaborations along with recommendations for further development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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