I found out I needed pressure to help me during meltdowns accidentally. I was at the beach and there were big metal support beams at the end of the beach holding up the road or protecting the road from the sea. I found myself standing in between these beam things and the feeling of the slight squeeze it gave me made me feel much better.
A friend told me about the Tjacket and it has changed my life. I adore it..
It's easy to control it from my phone and it "looks after me". I feel like I'm having a huge cuddle, I feel calmer and less anxious. When I have meltdowns or get over excited, it reassures me, makes me feel incredibly safe and secure. It also grounds me.
Using it just before bedtime on the pre set programs relaxes me so much and helps me come down after the overwhelming day so I wind down quicker. The squeezing calms me enough that I can think better when I start getting stressed and confused.
This jacket is a life changer.
Parent and adult with autism, UK
The special needs community has always been close to our hearts. Our flagship product, the Tjacket has helped to calm and comfort hundreds of children worldwide, giving them an enhanced quality of life.
When UNIQLO approached us to see how we could work together to serve this community, we couldn’t say no.
At this point, we had something new in the making - a slimmer, leaner jacket for the everyday consumer. It looked something like this:
Then we thought, “What if we combined this jacket… with Uniqlo’s trademark stylish clothing line?”
The idea was born.
UNIQLO’s In-Store Shopping Experience Event
Shopping is a common experience for all of us. In fact, retail therapy is one of the most popular ways of de-stressing and relaxing after long hours of work. But to these children, shopping is an uncommon idea. Due to their circumstance, they are unable to endure the experience of shopping.
What we see as racks of clothes on display… are an overwhelming load of information entering their brains, which could lead to meltdowns, tantrums or aggressive behaviour.
The In-Store Shopping Experience (ISSE) was first held last year by UNIQLO in conjuction with the voluntary welfare organization Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) and feedback had been fantastic.
The purpose is to let disadvantaged children in Singapore have their own shopping experience. The children were given $100 UNIQLO vouchers and they were allowed to purchase anything in the store with these vouchers.
In fact, the venture has become so successful that various UNIQLO stores from around the region, such as Malaysia and Thailand have picked up the program and conducted their own ISSEs.
Tware + UNIQLO = ?
As a result of a link up by the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE), Tware joined efforts with UNIQLO to augment their existing range of jackets through the integration of Tware’s Smart Pressure technology.
Take a look at this beautiful piece of technology:
T.Ware meets Uniqlo in this simple yet elegant design.
As we all know, Smart Pressure is a form of deep pressure technology developed by us, which possesses a range of benefits. Deep pressure provides the individual with a relaxing sensation which reduces stress and increases a person’s ability to focus.
Basically, a hug.
Through weaving this inner deep pressure vest with an outer UNIQLO jacket, we created an integrated hug jacket that is casual and fashionable and can be worn both indoors and outdoors.
How does this jacket work?
Smart Pressure can be activated via a button or through the Tjacket smartphone app.
Deep pressure is created through the inflation of an airbag layer in the jacket which then creates a simulated hug feeling. Our wearers have a selection of hugs to choose from when they use the app - ranging from a constant pressure feeling to a variable hug and release. A slider in the app allows wearers to choose the strength of the hug, be it a light gentle one or a strong bear hug.
The Event Itself
The event opened with a bang. UNIQLO staff lined up to welcome the eager eyed children from a local special needs school.
It was obvious to the observers that shopping was not a common experience for them. Excitement, apprehension and happiness flooded these children’s faces. We were pretty sure they didn’t know what to expect.
A quick brief by the UNIQLO staff in-charge got the children familiarized with the signals they would use for the event. Each child would be accompanied by a UNIQLO staff member. “Silent clap”, “orange squeeze” were some of the “commands” given out to the students to follow certain instructions. It certainly reminded us of our days in university, where we knew every single camp chants and instructions.
Then the children were sent off onto their journey - clothes shopping!
All the children rushed ahead and start selecting the clothes they would like to have The UNIQLO staff helped them determine their fit and then whisked them away to the changing room. The children could choose whichever clothing they wanted. If the child liked the T-shirt, off it went into the basket. If the child didn’t like the shorts? Back to where it came from.
UNIQLO staff members also helped to teach the children how to calculate how much they needed to pay for the clothes. A hand-held calculator was available as the staff patiently showed the tags to the children, helped them key in the correct values and get the correct final result.
The excitement came when it was time to pay. The staff patiently brought them to the counter and guided them on how to let the cashier handle the clothes. They then took out their coupons and started slowly calculating on how to pay the right amount to the cashier.
Lastly, they headed off to the booth where they got to try our smart hug jacket! Those who tried smiled so happily while they were wearing the jacket. One of the girls just kept repeating, “Hugs! Hugs! Huggss!!”
Looks as if all of the students really liked hugs.
In the midst of our comfortable lives in Singapore, there are many things in life that we have taken for granted. Shopping is something we have known all along and we could do anytime we wanted. Major cities like New York, London and Tokyo thrive on shopping - malls after malls are erected to cater to consumer desires.
Yet there remains a significant group of people who are unable to enjoy the experience that we can. It was heartwarming to see the children excited about the whole event, choosing their clothes, trying it on and paying for it. They had such an incredible time and I am sure all of them made a deep impression on the UNIQLO staff as well.
It is also incredible how a simple hug can make the children so happy. Be it from another person or our jacket, hugs is something that can improve our lives. In our busy lives, we have forgotten to love, help and give each other hugs. But with our jacket. hugs will no longer be a problem for you.
Discover more about our smart hug jacket here at: bit.do/hugs
Picture yourself being touched gently by the person you love. Imagine him or her smiling at you sweetly.
Your natural reaction would include reciprocating with the same smile.
Now imagine yourself going into an uncontrollable tantrum (also known as a meltdown) because of that light touch?
What a terrible and unexpected feeling, you must be thinking.
Indeed it is.
As neurotypicals (people not on the spectrum), we have never had any issues with our senses. We regularly subject ourselves to bright strobing lights, loud piercing music and heavy rude touches. Although slightly irritated at times, we’ve never had a strong emotional response to these senses.
But this is not the case for autism.
You see, up to 90% of children with autism experience some form of sensory issues.
Some of them are unable to tolerate light touches as they are sensory over-responsive. Others suffer from the opposite: under-responsivity. These children may be unaware of pain and may take longer to react when they touch a boiling surface. Some of them crave for sensations frequently. They may fidget all the time, make loud noises or exhibit behaviors that are risky and dangerous.
These are not trivial concerns. A study has suggested that 1 in every 6 children are experiencing sensory symptoms that are significant enough to impact their daily life. Although the study may not have stated that most of them who are impacted are diagnosed with autism, it is still a severe issue for them. Chantal Sicile-Kira who is an autism advocate, author and speaker raised the same point.
From Psychology Today:
“In interviewing adults and teenagers of different ability levels for my book, Autism Life Skills (Penguin 2008), most of them stated sensory processing challenges as the number one difficulty for them, regardless of where they were on the spectrum.”
Your 5 +2 Senses
What exactly are these sensory processing challenges?
You can now imagine what it feels like given the above scenario.
Yet, to fully understand sensory processing challenges, we must first define sensory processing.
As we have learnt way back when we were young, we have our 5 senses. As we grow older, we may have encountered the other 2 unknown senses. But altogether these 5 +2 senses are integral to how we live.
1) Sight – Your Eyes
2) Hearing – Your Ears
3) Smell – Your Nose
4) Taste – Your Tongue
5) Touch – Your Skin
6) Vestibular (Orientation and Balance) – Your Inner Ears
7) Proprioception (Relative positions of our body parts) – Your Joints
Sensory processing is where your nervous system receives information from your respective body parts and turns them into the required responses.
However, you do not work your senses one by one. As you would have already experienced in your life, you do not see the pizza first before smelling it. You are able to experience all the senses at the same time. You can see the pizza, smell its enticing cheesy aroma, taste it, touch the thin crust, and know the relative positions of your hands and lips as you orientate the slice towards yourself. These senses work together simultaneously in a process called sensory integration.
Sensory integration was defined in 1972 by Dr. Anna Jean Ayres in her seminal book Sensory Integration and Learning Disorders.
From Dr. Ayres:
“the neurological process that organizes sensation from one's own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment”
For people facing sensory processing challenges, they are unable to make sense of the information coming in from the senses (hence a problem with sensory integration). As such, they are unable to deal with this influx of complex information.
Dr. Ayres describes it best:
“It's like a traffic jam in your head, with conflicting signals quickly coming from all directions, so that you don't know how to make sense of it all.”
Why does this issue with sensory integration occur?
A study conducted last year suggests that children with autism have trouble associating information coming from the eyes and ears that happen within a certain period of time.
However, that is possibly only the start to discovering the puzzle.
As of now, we have no answers as to why these sensory issues occur.
Can we help these children?
Even though we may not know the exact cause of these sensory processing challenges, we can still help them alleviate the pain as much as possible.
In the same article by Sicile-Kira, she suggests several methods available as to how we can help alleviate the pain from experiencing these sensory challenges.
Here they are:
1) Sensory Integration Therapy
Occupational therapists use play activities designed to alter how the brain reacts to the senses.
An example is the Wilbarger Protocol where children who are sensitive to touch may be brushed regularly to desensitize their body.
2) Sensory Diet
Any activities that target the area where the child is suffering and allow him/her to do the activity at regular intervals throughout the day.
An example of such an activity could be moulding Play-Doh for children sensitive to touch.
3) Short Breaks
For children who are high-functioning, short breaks can be inserted to get away from possible overloading of sensory information.
From The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder:
“They can either set pre-planned and specific times for these short breaks or take them on an as-needed basis. This is an adaptive way of dealing with sensory overload or sensory understimulation in advance and in a socially acceptable way.”
4) Deep Touch Pressure
Deep touch pressure is the pressure you experience in most types of firm touching, especially hugging. It has been observed to elicit calming effects, especially in children with autism spectrum disorder.
Deep touch pressure was discovered to be useful for children with autism when Temple Grandin, a famous animal science researcher at Colorado State University (she is possibly the most famous person with autism) invented a hug machine.
She discovered her idea from the cattle ranchers as they used a device called the squeeze chute to calm the cattle down before slaughtering. She herself enjoyed climbing into the squeeze chute to enjoy the calming effect elicited by the machine.
From there on, she invented the hug machine which has been used in programs to calm children with autism.
Today, there are several options in which a “hug” can be administered. Most people with autism use a weighted blanket or a weighted vest. These weighted items produce the feeling of deep touch pressure when put on. Other devices include a manual pump hug jacket in which the jacket is fitted snugly around the person, and manually inflated to produce a feeling of hugging.
Here at Tware, we have also our own flagship product, the Tjacket.
The Tjacket is a hug vest that is remotely controlled via an app (through Bluetooth). The vest is also fitted snugly around the person and can be inflated to a pressure of the person’s choice (the app has options).
(You can learn more about the Tjacket here.)
The best deep touch pressure therapy is the one in which the person uses often. So it does not matter which product is chosen, as long as it produces the same calming effects as intended.
As the end to this post, I would like you to tell me which deep pressure products are you currently using and has it been helpful to you? If you haven’t been using any, which of the products would you think would be useful to you, your child or your friends?
Leave a comment now and let me know your answer!
Spinning = vestibular input, but what does that mean?
Tito Mukhopadhyay puts it much more eloquently:
When you are trying to think blue
And end up thinking black
You can be sure to be frustrated
Time and again it happens to me
And I get quite helpless
Otherwise why should I get up and spin myself
Spinning my body
Brings some sort of harmony to my thoughts
So that I can centrifuge away all of the black thoughts
I realise that the faster I spin
The faster I drive away the black
When I am sure that even the last speck of black
Has gone away from me
Then I spin back in the opposite direction
And pull the blue thoughts into myself
It depends on how much blue I want
If I want more blue I have to spin faster
Otherwise not so fast
It's just like being a fan
The trouble is when I stop spinning
My body scatters
And it's so difficult to collect it together again
This poem was taken from
Read more of Tito's writings there.