Tuesday, 12 April 2011

This is an interview with Temple Grandin, a world renowned doctor of animal science, as well as a professor, bestselling author and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behaviour.  She also has autism.  Here, she gives a very clear idea of what life is like for her with her autism.

Thursday, 31 March 2011


I found this picture depicting a variety of famous glass designs that celebrities have worn throughout the years.

This has definitely helped me to think more outside of the box for my own glasses design.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Project updated


So I've been working away quietly on a hundred different things and thought it was about time I got back to updating my blog, sorry it's been so long!

Right so the concept and finalised idea is as follows:

I will create a pair of responsive glasses that will be for people with autism to use when in stressful public situations.  There will be a pair of glasses specifically for children, and one for adults.  The glasses will be able to monitor certain signals that can be indicators of an oncoming tantrum in children and of stress in adults.  These indicators include things such as heart rate and clamminess of the skin.  When the device recognises these signals they will begin to show the visuals on the glasses that are proven to help calm people with autism.  This will be done in a way that still allows the user to see through the glasses.  

The glasses will also have an audio plug-in, this will allow the user to use either the noise neutraliser or audio of their choice to cancel out any hyper sensitivity issues they may have.

There are many other features that will be added to each device that I will include as and when they are applied to the design!

Hope you all like the idea :)

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bubble walls for children with autism

Above is a small clip of a bubble wall in action.  I would look to include an example of these bubbles into my glass design.  It would be one of the many different calming displays that could be shown, depending on the individual childs needs.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Eyes following cursor


This is a link to a tutorial about how to make eyes that follow the cursor around the screen in flash.  The resulting effect is very realistic and could be very effective in helping children with Autism get used to direct eye contact.  The eye animation would be entertaining for the child encouraging them to look at the eyes.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Autism reality

This video was produced by Alex Plank, who has Aspergers Syndrome (which is on the Autism Sprectrum Disorder Scale), and is an excellent video that gives people an overview and insight into Autism, from both the parents perspective as well as the childs.

A parents perspective

This is a video clip showing how some parents are coping with the difficulties that arise when raising a child with autism, although overall it appears to me to be rather negative overview.  It does show, however, their feelings on raising a child with autism.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Different Animation Ideas - just a selection of animations I watched for inspiration!

All of these animations show different ways to show a variety of emotions throughout, both in very short animations as well as longer ones, and also how important music and sound is in an animation. 

Saturday, 19 February 2011

3D Animations

This is an amazing 3D animation with an ending that is superb...quite long but worth a watch.


Another good 3D animation at the above link.


This animation shows a very different style that an animation can take.

This compilation of Pixar movies is fantastic, it shows just how many classic moments Pixar have created in their movies, as well as the huge variety of characters they have designed.  It is also a beautiful collection of the different emotions Pixar have been able to portray through their characters, and also an example of the different emotions it can evoke in the viewers.

Another 3D animation, I include this one because I think it's interesting that they decided to leave the main characters eyes completley white.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Anime and Manga Eyes


These are a small selection of the different kinds of eyes that are used in anime.  They show how different an eye can look depending on eye shape, size and dimensions.  I like the fact that such different emotions can be expressed by simply adjusting the outline of the eye.

Anime Eyes

The main part of most anime characters is their eyes.  Osamu Tezuka, the person that many people refer to as the godfather of anime, was the first to come up with the distinctive large eyes that largely surrounds common day anime.

Above is one of his early works, as you can see, the eyes are very large.  Tezuka found that the large eyes style allowed his characters to show emotions distinctly.  This approach would be very appropriate as this is exactly what I need for my character, someone who can express emotions easily and clearly through their eyes, as well as eyes that draw the viewer in.

Pixar Character Eyes

I wanted to check out all of the Pixar characters eyes as they are all done in 3D, the eyes, although looking quite similar, actually have very different shaped eyes.  In the picture above you can see a selection of the eyes ranging from almond shaped, to large arced eyes.  In all of the eyes the pupil and Iris seem to be quite consistant throughout indicating that Pixar think this is the easiest way of ensuring that viewers relate to the character.

The importance of eye contact when talking to a person


This is a website that explores the importance of non verbal communication when talking to someone.  Referring to eye contact it says:

"Eye behavior: Eyes and their effect on human behavior are as important to poets and painters as to the students of nonverbal communication. This is because one can communicate a lot just with the help of the eyes. From winking, seeing, glaring, staring eyes can perform many functions. The size of the eye, particularly the size of the pupil, is indicative of a person’s mood when one is happy, the pupil dilates or grows larger. When we are angry, our pupils constrict or grow smaller. Eye contact is another important facet of eye behavior. When one maintains eye contact with the audience, he or she is perceived as sincere, friendly, and relaxed. Those who don’t maintain eye contact while talking to others are perceived as nervous. In fact, effective orators and communicators use periodic eye checks to find out if the audience members are being attentive or not. Another important function of eyes is expressing intimacy. Eyes help us create ‘connections’ with others. In fact, eyes have been described as ‘windows to the soul’. We communicate important information and feelings through the eyes in addition to oral communication. Eyes also help us encourage or discourage others. For example, a simple glare may stop students from talking, while a warm glance and an encouraging smile often win many friends."

This shows us just how important these non verbal signals can be when having a conversation with someone. Autistic children are going to miss all of these unconscious signals and will find it much more difficult to fully understand what people are saying to them and will find it more difficult to participate in a conversation.

Eye contact is also a huge part of creating connections with other people, and without it autistic children could become even more isolated and disconnected from the world.

Autistic Children and Eye Movement


Above is a link to a website that shows results from a study done on how people with autism interpret eye contact.  It shows how direct eye contact, even from a friendly and familiar face, can trigger threat signals in autistic childrens brains.  They believe that this is the reason as to why so many autistic children shy away from eye contact.  The picture above shows the main areas that were looked at by the autistic children, the larger the circle the longer those areas were looked at and the straight lines showing eye movement.  As you can see, the eye is actually one of the least looked at areas on the face.

A non threatening character with large, expressive eyes could help autistic children get more comfortable with giving direct eye contact.  An accompanying program could be developed to encourage eye contact.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Teaching Aids - Barney Character

This is a video about an interactive Barney character that interacts with the user on a realtime basis about what is happening in the video or about what's happening on the pc, including the games that they are playing.  He is also highly interactive by himself by being able to play such games as hiding, where the child covers his eyes and he says, "where did you go", then "there you are" when the user removes their hand.  This is a fantastic toy that is extremely beneficial for young autistic users.

I have personal experience of this as I have gone to observe various lessons involving a trained ABA teacher and a 4 year old autistic girl.  The teacher used this toy and it had huge benefits for the child, from acting as an encourager for the child to continue on with the games, as well as a reward when they get something right.

The 3D character that I design, would benefit hugely if it was made into something like this, as in a character that the child could handle in reality, not just appearing virtually on the screen.

Learning Resources for Autistic children

This is a link to a resource site for special needs children.  It has a huge variety of learning materials that are already on the market.
Big Keys LX Keyboard

These are keyboards that are specially designed for children that can't learn the QWERTY keyboard and it has its keys in an ABC layout.  The keys are large and chunky which makes it easier for children that don't have great hand eye co-ordination skills.  They are also high contrast in colour and come in a variety of options, including upper and lower case.

Bigtrack Mouse Roller Ball

This is a special mouse that has been designed for users that do not have the fine control required to operate a mouse.  This would be beneficial for young children and people with significant motor control difficulties, especially children that aren't high functioning on the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The large central ball is 3" which is large enough to give sufficient control to users and the mouse has it's left and right buttons larger than normal and with a great distance between them to help avoid pressing the wrong button.  The Bigtrack mouse also has a port on it that lets a second mouse be connected so that a parent or carer can support the user with the use of another  mouse.
This is a brilliant tool that would greatly improve a young autistic childs ability to use a computer.

LX Deskmount LCD Arm

This is a flexible mounting arm with a high range of motion that will be useful to mount a tablet pc or touchscreen television that will keep it secure and safe.  This can be used when using a touchscreen with very young children and for people with special needs who are at high risk of dropping the tablet pc or touchscreen device. 

Autism sites


This is a link to a website that has reactive colours that helps allow autistic children to relax and that helps them to better communicate.  It also helps the child to develop their mouse and keyboarding skills.  Seeing these bright colours and interactive animations has a calming effect on children with autism, so having this as part of the design of the website might be beneficial.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Childrens Characters

Barney is one of the most famous children’s characters of all time.  He is interactive and talks directly to the audience, with a cheerful voice that children enjoy.  He is bright and colourful which is very aesthetically pleasing.  He has such a huge following because of the design of his character (which is liked and appropriate for both boys and girls) and his positive light hearted tunes and jingles.  He is a brilliant example of great children’s character design.

Autism game websites on the market

There are very few websites that provide online interactive games for autistic children, there are even fewer that are based on ABA.  Below is a link to a website that offers free trys of the game but ultimately you must pay to use the site and the games on it.

Overall I think this site is badly designed and difficult to navigate.  The games don't cater for children on differing levels on the Autism Spectrum which is necessary as all children on the spectrum can have very different abilities and limitations.

This website is free for users online and is easily navigated.  It has a white background which looks pretty bad but it actually helps to keep autistic children from getting distracted.  There are major negatives about this website too, the website does not cater for young children.  Alot of the emotions that they ask about are very advanced for children, such as shame and interest.  There are also no audio instructions which would have been a huge advantage for autistic kids.

Neither of these websites have a character in them which would have helped to give the games structure and a purpose.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Brilliant 3D Character Animation

The 3D work in this animation is amazing!! Shows just how much can be achieved even in a short animation, I particularly like the bloopers reel that they have added in at the end.

Autism and ABA

In order to fully understand how this character should be designed, an understanding of Autism and the only scientifically proven treatment technique, ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis), is necessary.  I have included brief descriptions below that give a very basic summary of both topics:

Autism - Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Children and adults with Autism have difficulties with everyday social interaction.  Their ability to develop friendships is generally limited, as is their capacity to understand other people’s emotional expression. People with autism can often have accompanying learning disabilities but everyone with the condition shares a difficulty in relating to the world around them.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. It is part of the autism spectrum and is sometimes referred to as an autism spectrum disorder, or an ASD. The word 'spectrum' is used because, while all people with autism share three main areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in very different ways. Some are able to live relatively 'everyday' lives; others will require a lifetime of specialist support.
The three main areas of difficulty which all people with autism share are sometimes known as the 'triad of impairments'. They are:
  • difficulty with social communication
  • difficulty with social interaction
  • difficulty with social imagination.
A well designed character could help with all 3 of these difficulty points.  By making the character interactive you are enabling the user to help improve their social communication and social interaction.  In addition, a unique character could help with the users social imagination.

ABA - Applied Behaviour Analysis:
ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis is a time tested and data based strategy for teaching children with disabilities. It is most often used with children with autistic spectrum disorders, but is an effective tool for children with behavioral disorders, multiple disabilities, and severe intellectual handicaps. It is the only treatment for Autistic Spectrum disorders approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration.)

Although the science of ABA itself will not effect the design of the character, the techniques involved with teaching within ABA, such as certain educational games that are played, could be improved with the help of an on screen character.  It will be necessary to look into these games and to ascertain what characer design will be most effective.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Open Eyes 3D Character - Brief

Open Eyes is the title of the project I am completing for my computer module Final Year Project.  It will be a comprehensive website that contains a series of interactive and effective games that are designed specifically for children with autism that are high functioning on the autism spectrum disorder scale. 
The games will be designed to try and teach these children abstract subjects such as colour, size and emotion in a way that enables them to enjoy their learning experience.  These are subjects that children without autism learn in a natural way as a process of growing up, and subjects which are necessary for children to know in order to enter mainstream school.
3D Character
For my Major Design Project I will design a 3D character specifically for this game that will help the children to learn.  The character will be designed in a way to help autistic children to learn the material, as well as to learn certain social conventions which they often have trouble with.  For example, this will mean the character will have to have certain characteristics, such as large, expressive eyes in order to teach the child the importance of eye contact.
The character will initially be designed in Photoshop, then in 3D Max as a 3D character.  It will be a very child friendly character that may have an animation that could be used to reward the child when they get the answer right.  There is also the possibility that more than one character may have to be created for the different games.