Inspired by Brother, Teenager Launches T-shirt Featuring Fidget Toy Clip for People With Autism
A teenage Rhode Island entrepreneur created a T-shirt brand designed to incorporate fidget toys, which can provide a calming outlet for people with Autism or ADHD.
Jose Rodriguez, founder of Tasium, was inspired by his younger brother Joel. Rodriguez thought of the idea when he was just 16, and the idea won him a start-up grant and full scholarship to Babson College, known for its entrepreneurial focus.
The shirt includes a space where fidget toys can clip on using a carabiner. That way, people who use them can keep track of them more easily, keep them at arm’s length at all times, and switch out new toys whenever they want.
“Often, kids with Autism get fixated on a single toy, and then they change and get fixated on different toys,” Rodriguez told WCVB. “So I didn’t want to be that company where you had to buy a new shirt every single time you wanted a new toy.”
“It’s a way to express yourself, even in quarantine when people can’t see your facial expressions through a mask,” Joel Rodriguez told WCVB.
The basic “Fidget Infused” shirt is $25 and comes in a variety of colors with the Tasium logo, which references the Autism Awareness puzzle pattern. It also comes with a fidget toy selected at random and a carabiner. When there isn’t a toy attached, the T-shirt’s minimal clip doesn’t distract from the logo or look out of place.
Incredible...17 year old @MetSchool senior beat out 20,000 other entrepreneurs to win a competition with his fidget toy infused clothing line called “Tasium”
— StreetStoriesWPRI (@StreetStories12) October 30, 2020
When Rodriguez was in high school, he enrolled in hands-on business classes in his native Providence, which required learning to add decoration to T-shirts using a heat press, according to WCVB.
“I always try to make his day-to-day life easier,” Rodriguez told WCVB about his brother. “From teaching him sarcasm to trying to help him catch social cues. We did everything together growing up—tying our shoes, walking to the barbershop, everything.”
After learning more about how fidget toys benefit people with Autism, he had a lightbulb moment.
“I was like, ‘Boom. Bingo,” he said.
Apparel companies have been looking for ways to be more inclusive for people with special needs, such as different ways to tie or fasten components. This one features such a small change to the traditional T-shirt—just a basic clip on the bottom—but allows for people who use fidget toys for calming themselves or as an outlet for energy to keep one on-hand at all times.