Autistic Adults May Soon Be Able to Manage Anxiety Using Stretchable Wristband
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Autistic Adults May Soon Be Able to Manage Anxiety Using Stretchable Wristband

Stretching the wristband enables adults to log when they feel anxious, helping them to understand buildup

August 18, 2016

Adults who have autism sometimes suffer from anxiety, which manifests in behavior such as fidgeting with jewelry. Lancaster University researchers decided to use this behavior to create a way for these people to manage their anxiety, and the result was the Snap wristband.

Designed by Human Computer Interaction Specialists, the wristband need only be stretched by the wearer to keep a digital log of the times when they feel anxious. Researchers say that keeping such a log may help adults who have autism to better understand the factors involved in the buildup to any anxiety they experience.

"We wanted to build our own device and we thought that if we could digitize something they do anyway -- play with things in their hands -- then that could potentially help them to manage their anxiety," said Dr. Will Simm, a researcher from Lancaster University School of Computing and Communications. "This is about empowering people with data to reflect about their anxiety."

The Snap wristband allows users more control over information they log than do other wearables such as the Fitbit. This control can help wearers to proactively monitor their emotional state. Once logged, the information can be downloaded onto a computer so that the wearer can reflect on it.

And not only will they be able to control their information, wearers will be able to physically and electronically customize their wristband according to their preferences, which an early study found to be helpful in itself.

"The process of designing and building Snap has enabled our participants to discuss experiences of anxiety in a way their supporters said they had never before articulated," Dr. Simm told Consumer Affairs.

The wristband is still only a prototype at this time, and it includes a customizable 3D printed pod to enable users to put the wristband together and customize it. Researchers may add certain features requested by autistic volunteers who participated in the study, such as a button they can click and an online platform.