User Interviews

We then conducted exploratory interviews with eight potential users and subject matter experts to try and find answers to many questions. Our overall goal was gaining first-hand accounts of how our users deal with day to day life when taking care of a child with autism. To obtain a better understanding of how people currently prevent and deal with meltdowns, but then also to find out about any techniques or technology they use to track the child’s behavior, habits, schedule, etc., and whether PAL combined with a mobile app would solve any of their needs or frustrations.

Busy schedules
  • Parents didn’t have much time to fill out complicated reports to keep a record of outbursts. Thus, they don’t keep detailed records.
  • Manually entering tracking data is too much for parents and aides due to their busy lifestyle which makes it difficult to share information between all parties who care for the child.

Dropping support
  • There are mandatory services until graduation from high school, but afterward, it can become a considerable challenge and burden on the parents to continue.
Trigger causes
  • Meltdown triggers revolve around three main areas: sensory issues, difficulty when presented with something new, and the individual’s rigidity in thought and behavior.
  • Examples of transition issues include:
        • Handoff to a caregiver
        • Last minute schedule changes
        • New Services

Independence building
  • Decision-making skills are generally weak and can only improve with practice.
  • Over time these skills can be improved enough for many children to live independently.
  • Their scheduling must be visual and not just verbally communicated to increase decision making skill.

Coming into the project our team realized the scope of ages and degrees on the spectrum was very wide and it probably wouldn’t be likely we would use a one-size-fits-all solution. With our set of data, as a group, we looked at the situation and decided to focus on “parents of 18-24-year-old young adults with autism”. By concentrating on those children who have the most significant chance of becoming independent adults, we believe that we had an opportunity to create a high level of impact with the data we had. Parents need tools for the child to start to live a separate life, and for the parent to have peace of mind that their child is okay. In the future, there are many angles Gaia will need to address on including parents, younger children, older children, and the differences along the spectrum.
© 2018 Rob Jurewicz