April is the national autism awareness month in the United States. Texas Tech University researchers are contributing to the fight against autism. A team of researchers at Texas Tech University (TTU) have developed special clothing to help children with autistic disorders.
According to latest statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on data from 11 communities, 1 in 68 children aged 8 years, have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). CDC data shows that in the US, the economic cost per year for children with the autism disorder can be as high as US$ 60.9 billion. It is critical to develop medical and non-medical countermeasures to combat the disorder.
TTU’s project on sensory clothing is led by Su Shin, associate professor of design involves Kristi Gaines, professor of interior design and undergraduate researchers. The clothing incorporates air pumps to control pressure, patterned structures in pockets to calm children with ASD. Researchers designed clothing with hoods that can provide acoustic insulation to protect the ears of children from unwanted external noise.
According to the researchers, based on the feedback they have obtained, organic bamboo fabric was the most preferred and wool clothing was least liked by the children, who used the clothing.
Adding gadgets to provide functionality and enhance comfort is becoming a norm these days in the next-generation clothing. Hopefully, with the investment of US$317 million to create the revolutionary fabric institute in the United States, new wearable electronic textiles that have unimagined functions may be on the horizon.