A group of student entrepreneurs has developed what we think might be one of the greatest autism inventions ever created. Their idea came from weighted blankets, which provide the kind of deep touch pressure that many people with autism find particularly comforting.
The sensory-friendly backpack, called the Nesel Pack, is designed for children ages six to twelve. It’s the brainchild of parents, therapists, teachers, and, of course, the students who created them. It aims to incorporate several of the tools children with autism often use to cope with the stressors of the outside world into one item they can carry with them pretty much anywhere.
The Nesel Pack is built for durability and designed with thick straps that can be tightened around different areas of the child’s body to provide the feeling of being held or hugged. It also comes with special hooks to attach sensory tools like chewies, and pockets for weights or other objects the wearer likes to have with them for comfort or self-stimulation. There’s even a special pocket for a tablet, as many children with autism use tablets to communicate their needs or for educational purposes.
There is also a reflective handle on the back of the pack for parents or caregivers to hold onto in cases where the child may be in immediate danger, such as while crossing a street. A pocket in the back for the child’s name and emergency information in case they get lost completes the ensemble. In this way, the design of the backpack keeps children with autism feeling safe but also keeps them out of real trouble they may not even be aware of.
The project has raised more than $46,000 on Kickstarter and is available to be shipped anywhere in the world.
Best of all, when someone donates the cost of a Nesel Pack but doesn’t want one delivered to them, the makers deliver a Nesel Pack to a child in need through Fraser, Minnesota’s largest service provider for people with autism. So even if you don’t know anyone with autism, you can still help by donating a Nesel Pack to a child in need.
Check out the video below to learn more about this innovative invention and the amazing team of people who made it a reality.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?