Tools Developing In Tennessee To Help People With Autism

Local News

Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S.

Children can start showing signs at 2 months old, but Autism isn’t a one size fits all condition.

Brothers Justin Gibbs and Jeremy Whitley have made it their mission to serve the families of the 1 in 88 children with autism in Shelby County.

Whitley provides mobile therapy and together the brothers opened Sensory World in Bartlett.

“There wasn’t a store in Tennessee or surrounding areas that you could go inside of the store and try items before purchasing,” said Whitley.

From spinners to mirror balls educators and researchers are constantly finding ways to use common items and developing new tools to help the autistic population develop life skills.

“This is a sensory cushion,” said Whitley. “It helps with posture and focus.”

The inflatable nodes are designed to stimulate sensory nerves in the body when sitting in a classroom setting.

Whitley and his brother are designing tools for people with autism right here in the Mid-South.

“This is a weighted blanket,” said Whitley. “We make all our weighted blankets in house.”

From simple blankets to high tech video games engineers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee are designing a virtual driving simulator to help teach teens with autism like Brandon Robertson how to navigate the rules of the road.

“Things that I wouldn’t notice in real life the game picks up that I didn’t realize because of the eye tracker and it notifies me of those things and I remember Oh I need to do that,” said Robertson.

Experts say autism isn’t a one size fits all condition, which is why there are so many different types of tools in development. 

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