This Babson College Student Runs a Clothing Brand to Help People With Autism

Tasium won $15,000 in startup funds from a global competition, earned Jose a full scholarship at Babson and helped to connect another piece of the Autism puzzle

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Rhode Island teenager is taking the region by storm after he and his brother with Autism launched a clothing line designed to help people on the spectrum by incorporating fidget toys into the clothes themselves.

At 19 years old, Babson College student Jose Rodriguez has accomplished more in two years than he ever thought possible. He started a high school business project called Tasium when he was 16, which quickly grew into an apparel line with a purpose.

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“If someone is gonna benefit from this product that I’m going to do, then I want it to be my brother," Rodriguez said.

Jose's brother, Joel, loves fidget toys, and Jose wanted him to always have his fidgets with him on the go. So, he thought of an inconspicuous way of incorporating them into clothing.

"It seems so simple yet nobody had thought about it," Rodriguez said. "It’s typically how the world works, right?”

Dr. Marilyn Augustyn, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, said that fidgets can help some people with Autism feel more comfortable.

"Integrating it into clothing, integrating it into backpacks, making it an object that no one might even notice that the individual was using it to self-calm can help that individual be accepted," Dr. Augustyn said.

The idea is paying off. Tasium won $15,000 in startup funds from a global competition, earned Jose a full scholarship at Babson and helped to connect another piece of the Autism puzzle.

"I’m connecting with people like myself who have a family member on the spectrum," Rodriguez said. "And also connecting people like my brother to other people on the spectrum and now able to have this relationship, you know, through this product.”

Rodriguez said he's reached about 3,000 customers on the spectrum and he's only getting started. Once he's done at Babson, he plans to take Tasium global.

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