Biometric wristbands: possible game-changers in the autism world
Meltdowns are unpredictable and are many times a complete mystery. Those who are non-verbal or low-verbal are not able to communicate their needs or frustrations and meltdowns happen as a result. What if there was a way to predict and prevent a meltdown from occurring? Does that seem far out of reach?
A meltdown, in the autism world, is defined as a stress response to sensory and/or environmental triggers. Sensory overload, smells, sounds and lights are often too painful to bear. The response may look like a temper tantrum but is far from it.
Meltdowns may include self-harm, hitting oneself, for example, violent outbursts, crying and yelling.
It is very difficult for caretakers to watch and extremely difficult for individuals on the spectrum to experience.
As a parent of a child on the spectrum, who is low-verbal, I can personally say that I feel hopeless and many times useless when my son has a meltdown. Not being able to identify what is causing him pain and torment is heartbreaking. If I could take it all away or somehow prevent it, I would. I'm sure parents and loved ones in my shoes would feel the same.
There may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Dr. Matthew Goodwin from Boston's Northeastern University created these lightweight wristbands to detect minute physiological changes such as surface temperature, heart rate and amount of sweat. These changes may indicate that a meltdown is about to occur.
Currently, the biometric wristband is being studied and is not available yet. In a 2017 article, Dr. Goodwin believed the wristbands would be available in 2 to 5 years.
Autism Together, a charity and service provider in the UK, is working on funding to study and collect data on the biometric wristbands for individuals with Autism. "An initial trial with the wristbands – the first of its kind to take place in the UK – will begin this spring with seven residents at an existing care home in Wirral run by Autism Together," we read in the study.
The wristband will be a change how carers, therapists, and medical professionals work with individuals on the spectrum. It will be easier to foresee a meltdown and identify triggers before it happens.
Other good outcomes might come about from this study. We may learn so much more about sensory processing disorders and be able to distinguish a tantrum from a meltdown. It will increase the quality of life for those on the severe end of the spectrum and for those who are non-verbal. The possibilities are endless!
Also, don't miss this story from eMaxHealth's Brook Price, titled It's All Relative: The Genetics of Autism in Families.
Image: Autism Together