Backpack Designed for People on the Autism Spectrum

May 6, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. manifest / ˈmæn əˌfɛst / (v.) – to appear
Example: Her mental illness manifests as extreme mood swings.

2. input / ˈɪnˌpʊt / (n.) – something, such as information, that is put into something else for processing
Example: Visual inputs pass through the eyes before being processed in the brain.

3. overwhelm / ˌoʊ vərˈhwɛlm / (v.) – to cause someone to have too much to deal with
Example: The pile of school work due next week overwhelmed the students..

4. resemble / rɪˈzɛm bəl / (v.) – to have the same features
Example: She resembles her mom.

5. afford / əˈfɔrd / (v.) – to be able to have enough money to get or buy something
Example: Most poor families cannot afford basic medical services.


Read the text below.
A team of six students from the University of Minnesota designed a backpack meant to help children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

ASD is a disorder related to brain development that usually manifests as difficulty in interacting with people and repetitiveness of choices and behavior. People on the autism spectrum may also be very sensitive to even low levels of sensory inputs such as light or sound. Multiple sensory inputs tend to overwhelm them and cause some level of discomfort, distress, or even anxiety.

The backpack, named Nesel Pack, comes with features that help calm down people on the spectrum when they feel overwhelmed.

The Nesel Pack has straps resembling a vest that hugs the chest and waist of the wearer. Studies on autism indicate that applying deep pressure by hugging or squeezing provides comfort, as it helps take attention away from bursts of sensory inputs. Deep pressure may also be applied by giving weighted vests or blankets, so Nesel Pack straps are also designed with pockets where weights can be placed.

Aside from specialized straps, the Nesel Pack also comes with clips where sensory tools like stress balls and chewable toys can be hung. This feature is important because sensory tools have also been found to reduce restlessness.

The Nesel Packs do not have scientifically proven benefits yet. However, many parents who already bought Nesel Packs for their children provided positive feedback about the product.   The bags are currently sold for $115, but the makers are hoping to raise more funds to reduce the price so that more people can afford Nesel Packs.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you think the makers of Nesel Pack can make it more affordable?
·         Do you think that Nesel Packs are really useful? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What can be done to help people on the autism spectrum with their difficulties in communicating?
·         How can you help spread awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder?

May 6, 2016