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Stim4Sound : a Diversity Computing device helps to alleviate the double empathy problem

Nguyen, Thu (2021) Stim4Sound : a Diversity Computing device helps to alleviate the double empathy problem.

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Abstract:Stimming is a repetitive behavior exhibited by autistic people, characterized best by sudden movements, such as flapping, rocking, kicking, and others. It has been extensively studied in clinical and social science literature, and its functions have only recently begun to be understood. One important role of stimming is stress-relieving. Stimming also eases excessive sensory overload, as experienced by autistic people. However, stimming is still not well received as a normative activity among the general population. Specifically, it is perceived as abnormal behavior because of the odd movements and mannerisms associated with stimming. This stigmatization negatively affects people with autism because they often feel prejudiced and forced to suppress this essential activity. While traditional clinical treatments of stimming have approached this behavior by applying suppressive therapies, recent studies have shown that these therapies are not very effective and can even be torturous for people with autism. The modern clinical view is that stimming should be encouraged, and its acceptance promoted in the general population. More concretely, different approaches need to encourage stimming and help neurotypical people understand the meaning of this essential function from the perspective of an autistic person, a concept commonly known as the double empathy problem. In this thesis, I explore an encouraging approach to stimming, which addresses the double empathy problem by bringing neurotypical people to stim together with autistic people, by mutual sense-making in a sound collaboration activity. More concretely, the concept and system I propose in this thesis, called Stim4Sound, uses modern participatory sense-making theories within the so-called Diversity Computing (DivComp) framework.DivComp is a conceptual roadmap that envisions a type of interactive technology that connects people of diverse backgrounds (for example, neuro-diverse backgrounds). This is accommodated by facilitating a new ground of mutual understanding of stimming. Specifically, the Stim4Sound system aims to provide a safe environment and tools for people to make sounds with objects and music together intuitively, freely, and unobstructedly. The goal of the system is to provide a platform where autistic people can stim together with neurotypical people that eventually helps them establish a new meaning of stimming between them. In this way, autistic people do not feel prejudiced, and that neurotypical people gain a better understanding of stimming. As it turns out, these two goals work very well in tandem because making sounds with objects often involves repetitive and rapid movements, which is a characteristic shared with stimming. Furthermore, music and sound creation is an activity that can be appreciated by multiple groups of people with various diverse backgrounds. To facilitate the research and design of the system, this work applies the so-called Research Through Design (RTD) methodology to the concept design. Here, the concept and system are iteratively designed and refined in the span of multiple design cycles. Each cycle, except the first, starts and builds on top of the previous by incorporating newly learned ideas and observations. Workshops with autistic and neurotypical users are held at the end of each cycle to better understand the effectiveness of the current design - prototype and how the concept requirements need to be revised. The evaluation of the prototype is interviewing with the users, whose feedback is then used not only to support the hypotheses put forward by this thesis but also to refine the requirements and features for the next cycle.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:02 science and culture in general
Programme:Interaction Technology MSc (60030)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/86193
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