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Dio's Calming Pod

Dhania Yasmin,  Laura Kariono, Christia Wulan / Indonesia

Describe a marginalized person you choose.

  • Age   8 years old

  • Sex   Male

  • The person’s major condition you are trying to deal with.

1. Level 2 Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Deficit in social interaction, inflexibility, distress in coping with change

2. Difficulties with adjusting in normal school condition and communal learning environment

3. Emotion regulation: over anxiety and emotional outburst

  • Describe the design intent for the chosen person.

1. Provide him with an escape space during the hectic schooldays

2. Designated place to calm all his senses down

3. Prepare him for the future, to survive in the real world despite his limitation



Design Statement

Meet Dio. Dio is an Indonesian 8-year-old boy diagnosed with a level 2 Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

He loves airplanes and the color blue. He hates it when the school bell rings, but who doesn’t? But Dio hates it more than anybody else in his class. Teary-eyed with his ears covered, he runs out of his 2nd-grade classroom, lays down on the ground and screams on top of his lungs. Dio undergoes routine therapy with special needs psychologists who cater towards his delayed learning development. Their goal is to prepare Dio for the future, to survive in the real world despite his limitations.

Unlike other kids, Dio easily gets overwhelmed when dealing with unfamiliar circumstances or overstimulation. When emotional outbursts happen, Dio isn’t capable to learn or function. Dio needs an escape space to calm all his senses down before he could get back to learning and functioning. At therapy, Dio has a designated escape space he can recognize whenever his emotions elevate. This however, doesn’t exist in regular schools. Due to this reason we would like to help Dio!

A calming pod is designed to provide Dio with an escape space during the hectic schooldays. Whether inside a classroom or at home, Dio will be able to retreat to his escape space when his emotions elevate. Big enough to accommodate an adult supervisor, yet small enough for Dio to feel enclosed. The pod is made out of soft materials to absorb Dio’s sensory overload. The acoustic foam blocks out unnecessary noises that may trigger his outbursts. The cocoon-like space wraps around Dio with small openings, to provide him with access to the real world when he’s ready.

All the pod surface material is soft and doesn’t have sharp corner. We borrow the construction idea of a sofa that is having a wooden skeleton that is covered with two types of foam. The outside is a foam covered by light blue fabric to blend in with the surrounding. The inside however is covered with egg acoustic foam that is good for keeping the noise down and the round bump texture can help Dio calming his senses. The color on the inside is also blue but a lot darker to minimize light and create more intimate space. Finally we have the base of Eva Mat that is soft and topped with cuddly circle of bean bag to sit or lay down.

The calming pod is also designed to grow with Dio. As he gains better control of his emotions, each part is detachable. Dio may start with PART A and PART B attached, and as he improves he will be able to lose one part of the pod, where he is more exposed to his surroundings. Maybe one day he will be able to manage without the walls. Eventually, we hope his escape space will reduce into an imaginary calming pod, where he is able to get past his outbursts without the assistance of a physical space.