• Project Description
  • Partners
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Access ASD

"The process of co-design invigorated the individuals involved and has given them a sense of purpose."

What was the project challenge?

Access ASD investigated how new digital technology could reduce social barriers amongst people on the Autism Spectrum. It’s estimated that around 700,000 people in the UK have
autism, with a third of adults with the condition experiencing social and mental health problems due to a lack of support. Many people on the autistic spectrum find difficulties in
interacting with other people, and the project worked with adults on the spectrum to identify what things cause them difficulties and to devise tools that might help.

Who were involved?

Lancaster university academics from sociology, management, computer science, art, design, anthropology and psychology, worked with Lancashire County Council, Northlancs NHS – Occupational Therapy, Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, Action ASD, Wrong Planet, Bamber Bridge Social Club, National Autistic Society, and many people in the North-West living with autism.

What new digital technology was developed?

‘Clasp’, a hand-held digital anxiety management tool, controlled by sensory response. On squeezing, the tool connects to a digital peer support network, that is safe and secure, to help reduce isolation and gain immediate support. The tool also provides an anxiety tracking system, including a GPS-based locator facility, enabling users to monitor and self regulate their behaviour.

What are the ongoing impacts?

The process of co-design invigorated the individuals involved and has given them a sense of purpose. The project team has applied for future funds for further user testing of the tool. In addition, the tool is already being trialled in a new research project on tracking stress levels in the workplace.

A set of design guidelines for the future development of digital tools has emerged, with application potentials to wider areas of anxiety management.

Mark Luraschi, Project manager

Lancashire County Council, Adult & Community Services (Adult Social Care).

Charlotte Bracher

Lancashire County Council, Adult & Community Services

Ellen Smith

Sara Crookdake

Project Member, National Autistic Society

David Barton

Northlancs NHS – Occupational Therapy

Tim Dant

Academic researcher, Lancaster University Sociology Dept

Melissa Allen

Academic researcher, Lancaster University Psychology Dept

Manfred Lau

Academic researcher, Lancaster University School of Computing and Communications

Sam Fellowes

PhD student, Lancaster  University Psychology Dept

Access ASD

One of the main outputs of the Access ASD project was Clasp: an anxiety management and peer-network support tool designed and developed in partnership with adults with autism (ASD), their families, and their professional care. Clasp combines tree core components: a tactile digital anxiety device; a peer-support network communication facility; an anxiety data visualisation system for personal and community feedback. The prototype attracted broad support from ASD groups  and it was recently featured in BBC Click.
A 4 minutes video on the youtube Catalyst Channel outlines its   and a slightly longer (9 minutes) version describes




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