SenseAbility - Blankets Designed to Help People with Autism
SenseAbility is a mini-company ran by 3 wonderful girls, Ellen, Ruth and Arianna. I had the pleasure of meeting them through the Grifiith Enterprise Competition and their blankets are superb. The blankets are designed for people with Dementia, Autism and Down Syndrome. Their blankets can have buttons, zips, different colours and textures, pictures, pockets, string or lace, whatever you or your loved one would like. I was lucky enough to ask them a few questions about their wonderful business!
1). Tell us a little bit about your sensory blankets and the team behind them.
SenseAbility makes therapeutic sensory blankets for those living with a sensory condition, such as Dementia, Autism and Down Syndrome. Each of our blankets are one of a kind and personalised as we believe that each person is different so our blankets should be too. Our blankets are handmade, Irish, bespoke, made to a high standard, based on scientific research and personalised. We do our best to ensure sustainable production and reduce our impact on the environment by using recycled materials where it would not impact on the quality or safety of our product.
They have great benefits for people living with a sensory condition, such as Autism, and are based on intensive scientific research. We have met with the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre, who were so impressed with our product they bought one and now use it in their training days, the Laois Alzheimer's Branch, who had nothing but positive things to say about our product, Beechfield Healthcare, who are interested in selling our product in their shops and Nazareth House, who are buying and endorsing our blankets. We have also partnered with Bank of Ireland to promote our product. We met with Alison Cowzer from Dragon’s Den and have won multiple awards, including the Laois Student Enterprise Awards.
There are three people on our team, Ellen McWey, Ruth Bergin and Arianna Mezzapelle.
Ellen is the Manager and Marketing and Sales manager at SenseAbility. What drives her to work for this business is the knowledge of how much our product can improve peoples' lives.
Ruth Bergin is our in-house IT Specialist, Admin and Finance Manager. Ruth has had a strong interest in public speaking from a young age and she really loves being part of this business.
Arianna is our Production and Quality Control Manager. She has a keen interest in Social Entrepreneurship and Product Design. Having volunteered in a local nursing home, she has an in-depth knowledge of needs of people living with a Dementia, and really enjoys her role in the business.
We are all best friends so we really work well together and always encourage on to achieve more.
2). Who benefits most from your blankets?
Sensory stimulation is such an important thing that everyone can benefit from our blankets. My little cousins love to play with them. However, the people who benefit most from our blankets are those with Autism, Dementia or Down Syndrome. They help to calm people, provide brain stimulation, help people with Dementia remember certain things and can help teach children with Autism and Down Syndrome how to tie their shoelaces. Conditions such as Autism are spectrum disorders so it affects every individual differently. As we can tailor our blankets to their individual needs, our blankets have great benefits.
3). What kind of things can be found on your blankets?
Our blankets consist of various contrasting colours and textures to engage the user and stimulate their senses, as well as zips and buttons to maintain and improve their motor skills. We include pictures, pockets, strings and lace to provide tactile stimulation and to entertain the user.
4). What is the most rewarding thing about your business?
The most rewarding thing about our business is how our product genuinely helps other people. If just one person benefits from our creativity we have had tremendous success. We have had lots of success stories, for example a boy with Autism learnt how to tie his own shoelaces, a woman with Dementia fidgets less and one centre for Autism absolutely love our blankets!
5). What do ye hope for the future for SenseAbility?
We want to continue to help improve the lives of others and develop our brand. We want to continue to grow our company and sell all over Ireland. We would love to sell our product in big healthcare shops, such as Beechfield Healthcare and we are in the process of obtaining a CE mark to recognise the high standard we work hard to achieve. We are also developing a new, unique product that is in the patenting stage. This will complement our existing product and will continue to help us improve the lives of people living with a sensory condition.
As people all over the world suffer from sensory conditions, we want to export our blankets to help as many people as possible.
We are very excited about the launch of our new product and we are working hard at up-scaling our business. We currently employ one person but we think this will increase in the future as we have had such demand for our blanket.
Thank you so much Ellen Ruth and Arianna, I wish ye the very best in the future.