Visual Design for Autism

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Visual stimulation has a great impact on the emotional and cognitive development of children. Visual perception of products influences the first decisions of the user, and it is key to instilling trust during first impressions. For this reason, visual qualities play an important role in perceptions, expectations, and product choices. It is essential to pursue rich visual designs that have a positive impact on children. This is even more relevant for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who tend to experience sensory stimuli differently than typically developing children, which affects their daily performance. Studies claim that although they can vary within the sensory range, children with ASD are usually at one end of the sensitivity spectrum, meaning that they have insufficient or exaggerated responses, therefore presenting hypo- or hypersensitivity, respectively. This means that for products to be safe, comfortable, and easy to use, they must be adapted to the specific type of sensitivity of the child. However, most products are aimed at autism in general but are not adapted to each type of sensitivity, leading to frustration and rejection in many cases. This work explores the specific design guidelines and parameters for each type of visual sensitivity and concludes that the design must aim for different purposes, visual stimulation, or relaxation, depending on the type of sensitivity. It implements these findings by redesigning a multifunctional toy for hyper- and hyposensitivity, with the aim of demonstrating the importance of adapting products to the specific type of visual sensitivity of these children.