An estimated 1 in 70 Australians is diagnosed with an Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is often complicated by the presence of comorbidities such as intellectual disabilities or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those with ASD have a high likelihood of having a meltdown due to larger cortisol fluctuations in response to a novel event or environment. Meltdowns are often characterised by self-harm, loss of control, and panic. There are numerous products that either directly or indirectly cater to ASD; however, they are often unsuitable for meeting the complex needs of severely autistic individuals.
Serene Vibe is a scalp massager intended to be worn before a meltdown to prevent or reduce the severity of heightened behaviour. It is anticipated that the calming haptic feedback received will increase the user's sense of wellbeing and prevent self-harm. Massage provides haptic stimulation, distracting an overwhelmed individual from a potentially triggering situation. It also decreases depression & typical problem behaviour in those with ASD. The stimulation of the tactile system creates an opportunity for receiving foreign sensory information. This may assist the individual to experience the world more calmly, uninhibited by panic attacks and stress.
Those with ASD are often overlooked in society. Their needs are often misunderstood especially when a meltdown occurs. Meltdowns are often thought of as nuisances and carry stigma due to poor knowledge of them. Serene Vibe enables those with ASD to access the community and function in society more, as they are able to better regulate their emotions. As a result, this increased visibility in society enables a better understanding and perception of autism within the community. Additionally, the wellbeing of the user is improved by promoting a greater sense of belonging through the freedom to be with others.
Serene Vibe features haptic engines, which massage the ears and scalp of the user. This massage coupled with the noise cancelling of ambient sound create a calmed environment and body. A steel skeleton and steel hinges reinforce the design, which ensure a durable product. The frame, consisting of ABS plastic, can withstand severe use in various environments. I used memory foam and silicone for the cushions to ensure comfort for long periods of use. The silicone is intended to mimic human touch and is calming due to the subconscious association of human touch with safety, developed as infants. People with ASD have deep pressure stimulation needs, which Serene Vibe meets not only using the haptic vibrations, but also through the tactile plates along the side. These plates are engaging touch points for the user, potentially distracting them from a novel event or environment. The Serene Vibe mobile application works with the massager to offer customisation for most electronic product features. Some functions of the app include: - Access to pre-loaded white noise playlists - Settings to customise the strength and massage pattern - Massage activation options: ears, scalp, or both.