A booklet published in July 2022 documenting a series of projects undertaken since 2015 to develop teaching materials for children with autism using an industrial design methodology and process. In association with XingXingYu 星星雨 School, Beijing.
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About XingXingYu School Beijing
Beijing XingXingYu (“Stars and Rain”) Institute for Autism was founded by Tian Huiping (a parent of a child with autism) in 1993. It is the first private non-profit organization (NGO) in China that specializes in providing educational services to children with autism and their families. In June 2012, with the support of the China Children’s Charity Relief Foundation, the Xingxingyu Special Fund was established. This is used to assist poorer families, teacher training and pre-employment training for older people with autism. XingXingYu is committed to providing people with autism equal opportunities for development and the enjoyment of a normal life.
XingXingYu School Mission Statement:
With professional and technical support as the core, to help groups with autism spectrum disorders and their families integrate into society and promote equal access to social services.
Who the Booklet is for:
For parents, teachers, volunteers; designers, and anyone with an interest in improving the facilities for teaching autistic children.
About the Project:
XingXingYu is unique in China as a centre for the dissemination of best practice regarding teaching for autism. Not only is it a busy community school, but its programme of courses for parents and teachers from across China has done a great deal to promote better understanding of the disability.
Peter Li 李帅 at XingXingYu school in Beijing was kind enough to host several groups of my industrial design students from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, starting in 2015. This collaboration led to many insights and design proposals as well as research projects and exhibitions at Beijing Design Week. This booklet is the culmination of much of that activity.
The teaching activities at XingXingYu are extremely varied — dealing as they do with students of vastly different ages and abilities. An important part of daily life at XingXingYu are the teaching materials. Within such a school they need to be tailored for individual requirements in specific areas of development. In some ways they resemble kindergarten toys, but closer inspection reveals highly sophisticated layers of interaction relating to dexterity and cognitive skill. As well as developing and making these tools, teachers are also involved with demonstrating them to other teachers and parents and instructing them how to fabricate them themselves.
It quickly became apparent that this was an area where design students’ skills could usefully be deployed. Rather than try to produce individual activities as one-off pieces, it was decided to try and create instructions and tips that parents and teachers could use in the development of their own solutions.
The main areas of focus are transition/choice boards of various types and activity boards. These are widely used by the teachers at XingXingYu school to structure tasks and schedules and are both areas with potential for innovation and product development.
It has been so inspiring to see the enthusiasm, skill and inginuity of staff at XingXingYu. We hope that this booklet can help and inspire parents and teachers to carry on developing material that will be as useful and enjoyable to use.
Thanks and Acknowledgements:
The printing of this booklet and the exhibitions mounted at Beijing Design Week were made possible by support from XingXingYu School, Beijing, International Montessori School of Beijing, The School of Design and Art at Beijing Institue of Technology, Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Beijing, A4 Studios and Beijing Design Week.
In addition, I would like to thank the following individuals: Peter Li 李帅 at XingXingYu who was so generous with his time and support for the project, Alex Chien 简宁慧, Zhou Xun 周迅 and Reed Aitken who helped to instigate the project;
Wu Chenbin 吴晨玢, for her brilliant illustrations, Tracy Wang 汪玉娇 for translation;
Colleagues and Students from Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing: Wang Min 王敏, Lin Cunzhen 林存真, Li Wenlong 李文龙, Li Yao 李垚, Shi Shangjie 石尚洁, Mo Mengying 墨梦影, Li Yao 李窈, Liu Siqi 刘思琪，Bai Chenhao 白宸昊, Chen Fang 陈放, Fang Jianan 方佳楠, Lang Qiyue 郎启越, Zhou Yingmeng 周英萌, HeZhihao 何治昊.
Colleagues and Students from Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) 北京理工大学设计与艺术学院： 杨建明 Yang Jianming, 姜可 Jiang Ke, 吴慧灵 Wu Huiling, 杨惠茹 Yang Huiru, 刘天琪 Liu TianQi.