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Designing for Children with Sensory Processing Disorders

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Design I

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Louise R Manfredi Syracuse University

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Dr. Manfredi holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (2011) and a BDes in Product Design (2006) from the University of Leeds, UK.

Dr. Manfredi’s primary research interest centers on sustainable product development, and how the decisions designers and engineers make affect the environment during the life cycle of these products.

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Bekir Kelceoglu Syracuse University

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Prof. Bekir Kelceoglu was born in Ankara, Turkey and attended Anadolu University, where he received his B.A. in Interior Architecture. Even before his graduation, he started to work as a free-lance tutor, product designer, and interior architect. In year 2006, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Ohio State University, concentrating on design development process in industrial design.
His research interests are: humanitarian design, design development process, and emerging technology integration in design.

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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 research portfolio were required deliverables.

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.

Manfredi, L. R., & Kelceoglu, B. (2018, June), Designing for Children with Sensory Processing Disorders Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30281

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