Empathy Box for Autism

New Updates: Empathy Box is implementing our project into the Girl Scouts of RI Program Guide! We also just completed an incredible pilot program with Cristina Faulkner’s Design Thinking classroom. You can read more about how it went here!

UPDATE FALL 2013: We started a project with Loyola Academy in the Los Angeles area around the Empathy Box that incorporated design thinking.

UPDATE SPRING 2013: We unleashed 150 Empathy Boxes at the Autism Walk in Rhode Island.

Fall 2012: In the process of ideating for our Empathy for Autism project, we came up with the Empathy Box. This is a travelling box, made by a family of someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to be placed on the doorstep of someone within the community. It is the recipient’s choice then to either pass it on to their neighbor, or redefine the box and its contents to tell their very own story.  It is a new means of storytelling without imposing on people’s busy schedules. The box and its contents of letters and other telling objects work to connect the community on a deeper level and to spread empathy in order to demystify autism and its complexities. We think this has the potential to not only be self-sustaining, but to create a wide network of awareness for a number of relevant social issues.  


  • Physical item meant to be constructed and reconstructed by individual users (starter group: parents of children with autism)
  • Assembly by parent and child or by independent person with autism
  • Contents of the box are adaptable and customizable
  • Example Contents:
    • A letter (tells the box-maker’s personal story and is part of a book that will contain all subsequent letters that enter that Empathy Box)
    • An inspiration/motivation (i.e. a book with an inspiring passage)
    • An experience (i.e. game often played with child, a toy, a video, etc)
    • A tool  (i.e  the “wait” card)
    • Object/project created by child with autism (i.e artwork, symbol story, etc)
  • Components:
    • box
    • labels
    • instructions
    • starter worksheet templates for letter, etc.
    • workshop handbooks?
  • Online sharing network
    • visually catalogues existing Empathy Boxes
    • displays stories submitted by makers and receivers of an Empathy Box
    • provides resources/components for those who want to make Empathy Boxes
    • track your box, see how far it’s gone
  • Users/Stakeholders: parents, teachers, community leaders, Providence, RI public at large
    • Community partners/programs?
    • Schools
    • Community centers




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