TWare is Changing Lives, One Hug At A Time

Singapore
By:: 
Lesley Teoh

Tjacket is an innovative wearable touch technology that provides deep touch pressure to help those with autism

Did you know that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) affect one percent of the global population?

Many children with ASD have sensory sensitivities and can experience extreme distress caused by sounds, lights, movements and smells in their environment. This can prevent them from focusing, learning and interacting with others.

TWare is on a mission to transform their lives, one hug at a time.

Their journey began several years ago when co-founder Dr James Teh came up with a ‘remote hugging jacket’ for parents to hug their kids while they were overseas. His lightbulb moment came when he met an occupational therapist who saw the potential social impact of deep pressure technology in calming down individuals suffering from sensory disorders. The Tjacket was born from this idea.

Tjacket is an innovative wearable touch technology vest that provides deep touch pressure to users, simulating the feeling of a hug to soothe those suffering from sensory processing disorders.

The Tjacket is controlled via a smartphone app and provides adjustable deep pressure therapy to those with autism spectrum disorders.

Controlled via a smart phone app, it provides adjustable deep pressure therapy, which has been widely used by occupational therapists to help with sensory processing issues including anxiety disorders, hyperarousal, restlessness, and chronic stress. These are commonly found in individuals with ASD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and sensory processing disorders.

In addition to its calming effects, the Tjacket can also help increase the attentiveness of its users and lessen disruptive behaviours, making it a valuable tool for caregivers and educators that teach children with special needs.

The product has been widely used in special needs schools on a daily basis to calm children down during classes. It has been employed in 27 centres in Singapore including MINDS, Association for Persons with Special Needs, Society for the Physically Disabled and the Feiyue Early Intervention Centre.

Tjacket also helps adults who are suffering from anxiety

“With the jacket on, some of these children can sit down and focus better instead of been unable to stay still and disrupting the class. This also allows teachers to conduct lessons more effectively rather than spending energy managing the children's behaviour in class,” says TWare’s founder and CEO, Wei Liang.

Adult users can also benefit from using the Tjacket whenever they want to relax, or before situations where they are likely to be anxious, such as going out or attending events.

He recounts the story of Willow May, a parent with ASD from the UK who described the TJacket as a life changer.

A friend told me about the Tjacket and it has changed my life. It's easy to control it from my phone and it ‘looks after me’ I feel like I'm having a huge cuddle. I feel calmer, less anxious and when I have meltdowns or get over excited, it reassures me, makes me feel incredibly safe and secure. It also grounds me. The squeezing calms me enough that I can think better when I start getting stressed and confused.

For Wei Liang, the gratification they receive from their users is what keeps him going.

“Her story truly inspired me at the time when I needed to know if what we have designed is making any difference to people's life. At the very least, we are making an impact to a person's life. Her story makes it all worthwhile.”

While TWare’s ground-breaking social innovation has helped over 718 individuals to date, Wei Liang believes that more must be done to improve awareness and dispel common misconceptions that the public has about autism.

“It has been called an 'invisible disability' so I think that parents often face a lot of judgement from onlookers who think that their child is spoilt or misbehaving, and they are not disciplining them well enough. That adds a lot of stress to things like bringing their child out of the house, some kindness and understanding would go very far,” he says.

Get involved

Awareness is the first step and you can do your part by getting informed and being an advocate for autism. Wei Liang also recommends a visit to the Art Faculty at the Enabling Village, a platform that promotes the special talents of people with autism. You can also volunteer with youth with special needs.

Lastly, you can also make a donation to Isirada’s campaign to raise funds to sponsor therapy tools like Tjacket for Volunteer Welfare Organisations supporting children with autism in Singapore.

TWare received a grant from DBS in 2013 to subsidise the Tjacket for local users, support pilot testing and ready the product for international markets. The Tjacket is currently in use in nine markets worldwide.

If you want to find more about socially conscious living in Asia, check out Asia For Good's social enterprise directory.

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