Getting Organized

Throughout the summer I began collecting research so that once the fall semester began, I would be able to sort through it all and pull out what could help me with my thesis. The research includes medical websites, scientific journals, blogs for parents of hypotonic children and assorted articles that focus on designing for children with disabilities. Before I begin sorting out all of the information that I have collected the past couple of months, I decided to create a list of three stages that I will tackle by the end of this process:

Stage 1: Understanding hypotonia.

– what is it exactly?

– what are the symptoms?

– how moderate to severe is it?

– statistics?

– age group to focus on? (infant to 3 year old? 3 year old to 6 year old?)

 Stage 2: Helping children with hypotonia with the use of design.

– what symptoms affect them physically?

– how does this have an affect on their daily life?

– what actions/movements can help them gain strength?

 Stage 3: The positive effects of design for children with hypotonia.

– should the designs focus on helping them with daily activities or making them stronger/more independent?

– what are the exact problems I am trying to solve?

– what human interactions am I trying to positively affect?

– what type of design can be used to help (i.e., furniture, environment, toys, household products, etc.)?

– how can each of these individual designs help them?

– how can these designs work together to help them get stronger & more independent?


And so it begins…

This blog will be my way of staying organized and keeping track of my MFA thesis development from beginning to end. I am excited to get started but there is definitely a lot of hard work ahead of me. I want to share my thesis proposal so the overall thesis is clearly stated:

“Hypotonia is a condition in which a person has decreased muscle tone. It is more common to see hypotonia in children than it is in adults, although children with the condition can have it their entire lives. A condition that equally affects males and females, hypotonia is becoming more common than it used to be. This is because the survival rate of those who are more likely to be born with a disorder that causes hypotonia is higher than it was in the past. It is common to see hypotonia in children who have disorders in which it is a symptom, such as central nervous system (CNS) disorders and neuromuscular disorders. The most common disorders in which hypotonia in children occur is cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, although other disorders that can cause the condition include muscular dystrophy,Prader-Willi syndrome, and Tay-Sachs disease”

Hypotonia is a condition that affects the physical development of young children and makes even the most minute task incredibly difficult for them to accomplish. It renders them highly immobile and dependent on others at the prime time in their life where they should be developing both mentally and physically. Symptoms such as low muscle strength and lack of coordination affect the way that they interact with the environment, people and objects that surround them at all times. Low muscle tone weakness can become more burdensome as the children develop and will continue to lessen their ability to do even the most menial tasks on their own.

This thesis project will utilize the ability of design to aid in the physical struggles associated with hypotonia and to find a solution to help children suffering from this disorder become more independent. Extensive research into hypotonia will reveal all of the developmental challenges that these children suffer from, which will then be used to find a way for the design around them to be catered toward their needs. A solution will be sought out in which the products that children with hypotonia interact with in their surrounding environment will help make their daily lives easier and positively contribute to a steadier physical development process.

I will be working with children, parents, and occupational therapists to strengthen my research to learn more about the problems associated with hypotonia firsthand in order to enhance the overall outcome. This will allow me to later focus on the design of either toys, products, furniture or spaces in which children with hypotonia will interact with. The outcome of this project is to show the ability that design has to have an immense impact on their lives for the better, both in the short-term and the long-term.

Let the research begin!