Innovation for Independence

Picture-It: a digital tool to support living with autism

Publish date:
16/01/2015 - 2:51pm
Last updated:
16/01/2015 - 3:19pm

Picture-it is a new, secure digital tool designed in collaboration with autistic adults with learning disabilities and their support staff. Autism is a lifelong and complex neurodevelopmental condition that affects the way a person communicates and relates to other people and the environment around them. With an estimated prevalence rate of 1 in 100 (according to the National Autism Society), autism is by no means rare. Autistic adults may find it difficult to live independently and depending on the individual, support ranges from a few hours a week to 24-hour care. The aim of the Picture-it tool is to capture positive practice in supporting and caring for adults with autism, and to enhance the relationship between autistic people, family members and support staff. The concept has been developed by designer, researcher and PhD candidate Katie Gaudion at the Royal College of Art as part of a collaboration between the RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the Kingwood Trust, a leading charity which provides care services and accommodation for adults with autism. The research won the Autism Professionals’ Award for Best New Technological Innovation (2014). Watch this animation to see how the idea unfolds:

Insight & Impact

Inclusive design research with autistic adults was central to the development of Picture-it and generated a range of useful insights: 1. Support staff document the daily experiences of people they support, which excludes the autistic adult from recording their own experiences. Picture-it gives autistic people the autonomy and confidence to build their own daily experiences and achievements 2. Apart from formal meetings, support staff members have little contact with colleagues and little opportunity to capture best practice. Picture-it enables support staff to record and share their experiences, methods and techniques with other staff members. 3. Meetings between support staff are often focused on problems and challenges rather than achievements and positive outcomes. Picture-it has a focus on capturing and sharing positive experiences and achievements. 4. Information is static and does not grow and evolve with an autistic adult’s changing interests. Picture-it grows and evolves through the changing interests, skills and experiences of the autistic participants. 5. It can be difficult for family members to visit their son/ daughter on a regular basis Picture-it enables autistic adults and their family members to connect on a daily basis and share their everyday experiences and achievements.

Skills needed for this project

  • Web development and coding
  • Marketing
  • Business mentoring and modelling