Jam Blocks

Jam Blocks are a musical toy, designed to bring music therapy into the home. Jam Blocks allow parents to develop their children’s social communication skills, through a range of musical games. Like a deck of cards, there is no right or wrong way to use the Jam Blocks, you can make up your own games or play some of the suggested games. 

The starting point for this project was an interest in how music therapists help children with autism. After forming my initial design challenge on the very first day of the project, I set about refining that design challenge over a period of three weeks, through a series of expert interviews, observations and workshops.

My refined design challenge, going into the ideation phase, was to ‘improve the social communication skills of children with autism, aged 4-12, by creating a tangible music device to facilitate social interactions between children and their parents’. I also defined social interactions as eye-contact, turn-taking and joint attention. These are the foundations of all communication and are the core skills music therapists try to develop with children with autism using music.

After an extensive period of prototyping both the musical interactions and the form, I tested a working prototype with two families in Copenhagen. This allowed me to validate certain aspects of the design and refine others.

The latest prototype features a more complex shape and specially composed musical clips. This allows for a range of different games that allow parents to develop their child’s social communication skills. In 2016, I am hoping to continue working on the Jam Blocks and developing an accompanying app. This could allow parents to track the metrics of improved social communication as well as downloading additional sounds.

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