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This wristband subtly alerts teachers when a student with Autism is feeling overwhelmed

The project is on display at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition this week.

Hugh Murtagh at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition this week
Hugh Murtagh at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition this week
Image: TheJournal.ie

SOME PEOPLE WHO have Autism can become overwhelmed by their surroundings from time to time.

This includes schoolchildren in classroom environments, too. 

Now, Hugh Murtagh from Coláiste Mhuire in Co Westmeath has designed wristband that will help students with Autism alert their teachers in a subtle manner when they feel they need a break from the class. 

His project is on display at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition this week. 

The wristband, that can be worn by the student with Autism, has a button on it. When a student is feeling overwhelmed they can press the button which then sends an alert to the teacher to make them aware of the situation. 

This system allows for the student to make their teacher aware that they are feeling overwhelmed without drawing extra attention to themselves in the classroom. 

“I wanted to do this because I have Autism myself and I know how hard it is to be overwhelmed in a classroom and trying to focus,” Murtagh told TheJournal.ie. 

“I’m doing it for people with Autism, generally students because at that age, going through life and that stuff, it can become very stressful,” he said. 

IMG_4167 Source: TheJournal.ie

Murtagh said that when the teacher receives the alert, they will be able to come up with a reason to ask the student to leave the classroom, such as asking them to deliver a note to another teacher. 

“There’s obviously different ways you can do it manually, like with a red copy book flipped over, but if that was to happen everyone would realise what you’re doing,” he said. 

Another aim of the device is to help increase teachers awareness and understanding around Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and how they can assist students in their classes.

Going forward, Murtagh suggested that the wristband could be used to help with mental health in general. 

“Not everyone with Autism does feel overwhelmed in the classroom and some people without it do. I’m just basing this on Autism, but it can go anywhere from here,” he said.

As with other projects on display at the RDS event this week, the wristband is at the design stage and, as yet, is not commercially available. 

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2020 is taking place in the RDS in Dublin until this Saturday, 11 January. See here for more information. 

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