Deanna Griffin 'Co' — communication and learning system for children's bath time routines

  • Tauira / Student
    Deanna Griffin
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Stephen Reay

As grown-ups, our routines become second nature to us. Over the course of our childhood, we developed and established our own shower routine to get to where we are now.

For children with cognitive impairments, learning new routines can be challenging. For example, children with Down syndrome, Autism, ADHD and Fragile X Syndrome need a tool to support their learning and development, while celebrating their unique experiences and worldviews. When their cognitive abilities do not meet this society's expectations of independence, it can cause them to feel distressed and hesitant towards engaging in basic hygiene routines. Currently, there are no fun and engaging tools to celebrate the learning experiences of cognitively impaired children.

‘Co’ is designed to bridge the transition to independent bathroom routines for children with cognitive impairments by fostering communication and consistency. The sensory and playful approach to colours and patterns helps children plan and organise their routines in a way that makes the most sense. When self-confidence and trust with independence, they become powerful enablers of well-being. However, the transition to independence requires effort. Finding the ever-changing balance between parental assistance and independence is a challenging but necessary part of raising children with cognitive impairments.

I used Design Thinking and Human Centred Design methods to investigate and identify possibilities for individuals with various capabilities. Concept development was iterative, with feedback throughout the design process to ensure the product reflected the expertise and experience of its users.

'Co' has two features; the task tile and the item tile. They form connections through different combinations of colours and patterns. The 'Co' product system draws on two key features to deliver a three-step learning, reward and repeat framework. Starting with "learn", parents and the child collaborate to build a routine based on their needs and the significance of each task and item. Through engagement with the features, children experience "reward" through visual and tactile feedback. This system promotes consistent routines to foster independence as they repeat the tasks that make up a routine.

It's time to make a change—a chance for all children to grow their independence with care, regardless of their abilities.