The project Personalized Interactive Urban Maps for Autism (acronym PIUMA) aims to help people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) move and live within cities by means of a new digital service that provides interactive personalized maps. ASD is marked by a tendency of withdrawal from social relationships, is characterized by a reduced capacity for extracting a Gestalt from a collection of details, and implies the need of finding reassurance in repetitious routines, making hard to manage unexpected events. These characteristics entail peculiar spatial representation modalities and the need of tailored supports for orientation and movements in the urban environment. The project aims to provide such support especially to adult individuals with medium or high functioning autism, or with Asperger’s Syndrome (now categorized as a form of ASD), since an orientation support for such people could highly impact on their autonomy, making the transition from a state of (partial) dependency to a state of autonomy.
The project has 3 goals.
The first goal is to understand how people with ASD represent and orient themselves in urban spaces, what kinds of “spatial needs” they have, and what kind of support would be useful for them.
This goal will be achieved through qualitative interviews and psychological tests in the first part of the project. Since there currently is no substantial scientific literature available concerning this issue, this would also mark the practical opening of a novel area of research. Findings from this study will have a scientific validity that could also go beyond the specific project, being useful to other researchers to support spatial abilities of people with ASD.
Design & Develop
The second goal is to design and develop interactive urban maps to practically support people with ASD in their daily movements within urban environment:
a) Agenda-maps will support everyday movements of ASD people (homeschool, home-relatives, etc.) by allowing for the planning of routes and providing tailored helps for facing breakdowns from routines (e.g. the bus line they usually take is canceled for the day). Maps will be personalized on the basis of the users’ habits and on their cognitive abilities;
b) Crowdsensed interactive maps will be populated with comments, reviews, trails by people with ASD, caregivers, and anyone interested in contributing to the service. They will suggest places, routes, and activities (e.g. less crowded routes, quiet places, ways to socially behave in different places) which could make the ASD people’s daily lives more comfortable.
The third goal is to iteratively evaluate the technological intervention in a real context of use where people with ASD could use the interactive maps in their everyday urban movements. The effectiveness of the solution will be assessed through both qualitative and quantitative measures