"Hi, my name Ciara McGarrity and I am a final year Product Design student at Ulster University.
I have particular interest in design to improve the everyday lifestyle of others. My final year project focuses on raising awareness on the holistic needs of autistic adults. There is an enormous gap in the research and design market for autistic adults. In the UK less than 15%% research on autism included autistic adults, therefore they suffer higher rates of social exclusion, unemployment, and mental health issues.
JASS is an empathy builder toolkit which centres around a boardgame, accompanied by sensory tools, game cards, figurines representing the four main emotional responses, Joy, Anger, Sadness and Serenity and an app. The toolkit explores the various positions of the autism spectrum, it provides valuable insights from autistic people themselves and several tasks which include a cardboard VR headset (found in the toolkit) paired with the app which allows players to step into the shoes of the autistic adult and experience life through their eyes through virtual reality.
JASS’ main purpose is to educate a non-autistic audience about adulthood autism and how they are affected in their everyday life, this is a timely project due to the COVID19 lockdown which has had a detrimental impact on everyone’s mental wellbeing and particularly magnified for those with a hidden disability. Because “a hidden disability is still a disability.”- Robbie- Autistic adult and focus group participant.