040 – Brent Chase works to help his autistic brother, Alec.
Our guest in this Dad to Dad podcast is special brother, Brent Chase. Brent grew up having a younger brother who’s autistic. We’ll hear Brent’s stories and how he’s working to develop products that will benefit his brother Alec and others like him. That’s all on this Dad to Dad podcast.
Dad to Dad 40- Brent Chase works to help his autistic brother, Alec.
Brent Chase: One of the person that’s, I’ve been a father figure. She’s not necessarily a father figure as my mom, she’s always been great support. And even though like growing up was very hard, I I’m her world and she would give up anything. And as I grew up, I took the helm of that and understood that now I need to make my brother and what my work is my world to help other people.
Tom Couch: That’s our guest on this dad to dad podcast, Brent Chase. Brent grew up having a younger brother. Who’s autistic, we’ll hear Brent stories and how he’s working to develop products that will benefit his brother, Alec and others like him. That’s all on this dad to dad podcast. Now here’s our host, a man who spent decades advocating for fathers, David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the dad to dad, podcast, fathers, mentoring, fathers of children with special needs presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Brent Chase: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation.
Tom Couch: It’s a great way for dads to support. Dads to find out more, go to 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search dad to dad.
Tom Couch: So let’s listen now to David Hirsch’s conversation with a special brother Brent Chase.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with my friend Brent Chase. Who’s from Columbia, Maryland, and his brother Alec who’s 21 is autistic. Brenda’s a graduate student at Northwestern university in Evanston, and is working on a program called pale products for autistic lifestyle. Brent, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the special fathers network.
Brent Chase: Thank you for having me.
David Hirsch: So let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Brent Chase: Yes. So I originally grew up in Columbia, Maryland. I had a mom and dad, like a lot of people do, but they sort of, I would like to say fell out of love shortly after, but the more interesting part was before that happened, my brother was diagnosed with autism and we didn’t have the typical story.
Actually. He was sort of a ish kid. I of course, was very young at the time he being about two and a half years younger than me when he was first. He was actually moving a couple months before that he was very well, actually a couple of years before that he was very, I guess neuro-typical where he was walking.
He was talking, well, say words more or less as like an infant would say. Uh, but then my family was actually poisoned with arsenic, which was in our long product. It was just. Long product company called Scott’s patch master. And there’s a, those the issue with their purification process that was happening.
And basically my family had lethal amounts of arsenic ingested in us. My mom ended up having grandma seizure. My brother ended up, uh, going from walking, saying some words, being very normal development, to not say another word for years, not walking, not doing anything else. And for me, I ended up having my own kind of learning disability and my dad got the least worse for the rest of us because he was not home.
And he wasn’t a young child, like were all of us, but from there on out, it was mostly, I like to say little league games. And family dinners turned into weekly occupational therapy and speech therapy sessions, and those sort of a drain in the pain that was put on. Not only my brother from a developmental standpoint, the social aspect, also the family as a whole, where.
Suddenly we weren’t having these typical TV family interactions. It would be mostly, I would come home. I get picked up by mom. We would go to my brother’s therapy sessions. We would have therapists come at the house. I would have to do my own separate thing from everyone else. Occasionally I would be driven to sports, but a lot of the time it was things were emphasized.
My brother and I kind of, I felt like I grew up really fast and I understood what was needed when me and ALC. Be together. We would hang out. We would do things together as much as he was able to do, but a lot of time was focused with him and my parents and these other strangers that didn’t know who they were and didn’t fully understand what they were doing behind doors that I was never allowed into because everything was to try to help my brother get on the right path to be as quote unquote, normal as possible.
David Hirsch: What’s interesting. You mentioned he went from being neuro-typical at a relatively young age. Yeah. Incident with the arsenic of these lawn care products. It sounded like that was really a turning point for him just to focus on him. It really exacerbated his condition. So I can’t even imagine what it would have been like for your mom, for your dad or even in your own situation.
So thank you for sharing. So this is the podcast for the dad to dad networks. I always ask what type of relationship did you have with your dad? So if you can share that, that would be appreciated.
Brent Chase: Yeah. Yeah. Um, so with my dad, it was, you could, I would like, I like to say it was a strained relationship with some healthy notes of love, where occasionally you would see a act of kindness or an act of what you would say a true loving care, but a lot of the time it was.
Kind of covered up with drunken evenings sometimes saying that he’s trying to help me out with maybe math homework or with a Pinewood Derby project. But most of the time sort of complaining about the given situation, he, he was like, I say a good guy, but the given situations of how our entire life was, was he wasn’t suited for in the later years.
And that becoming worse, he became less involved in my life to the point where, when he finally passed away, I didn’t know for months, and I may have not have known for the rest of my life that he had actually gone to the other side.
David Hirsch: Well, that’s pretty powerful. I think you had mentioned in a previous conversation that.
Your parents were separated for some time and then divorced. So you saw less and less and less of your dad as you got older. So you grew up in one of these father absent homes, which is what our overarching narrative is, is to make sure that there are more men present in their children’s lives, not just financially, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
And you’ve somehow navigated the chorus a little bit better than average. A lot better than average, I would say. So. So, um, I really appreciate that. Was there any advice that your dad gave you? Um, if you can think way back when that resonates with you or there’s, uh, an important lesson you learned because of that sort of dysfunctional relationship you have with your dad, that sort of is why you’re a better person today.
Brent Chase: Something. He did tell me when I was younger and probably the only good advice are the good things that were sent to me. When I was growing up, I have a really hard time just learning anything. I, people always told me I would never graduate, uh, elementary school. Then they said, I’ll never graduate middle school.
They’ll never graduate high school. They’ll never be able to get a job. And the big thing he told me when I was younger and every time that he would sit down with me, regardless of how intoxicated or not there he was. He would always say, never say you’re stupid. And that really stuck with me whenever I was frustrated with something.
And I would kind of hear the little voices in my head telling me you’re no good. You’re not gonna be successful. You’re dumb. You’re stupid. I would then hear his voice and say, never tell yourself you’re going to be you’re stupid. So like that one part really helped me out.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. Thank you for sharing.
Um, So wondering what role your grandfather’s played on your dad’s side or your mom’s
Brent Chase: side? On my mom’s side, who was the more prevalent figure in my life? He actually passed away when I was 13. So when my parents finally signed the divorce papers, but he sort of had this, he always told me these stories that.
Stuck with me and helped define who I was today. Um, one of them is the story when he was growing up. And I like to say that I’m like a reflection of him. So he grew up in Brooklyn and he would tell me how, uh, there’s three types of people in Brooklyn, there’s fighters, there’s runners and there’s talkers.
And he always said that he was just. Skinny kid that didn’t know how to stand up for himself so he could never fight. And then you said he was like too slow, uh, and never had a good pair of shoes. So he’d never run. So he said he had to be a talker. And so he talked himself out of any situation. And the big life lesson that he taught me was NIMBY, not in my backyard.
And whenever there’s a given situation that interrupts your reality, that you should figure out how you can talk your way out of it. And. Not let it happen. Uh, then on my dad’s side, he was kind of the jolly old drunk, but I was inspired by him because everyone on my mom’s side was more of these athletes.
Non-engineering types, non-science types. On my dad’s side, it was a bunch of engineers and I was sort of inspired by them because they were working. My grandfather had worked for NASA. When he was younger. And then my dad ended up becoming a mechanical engineer because of him. And I saw that these two people were doing something that even though what their current state was, wasn’t where I had hoped them to be or where I plan to be in the future, what they had accomplished.
So noticeable and something that I aspire to do. So the two of them kind of inspire me to go the engineering and innovation path. Um, and then beyond that he would just crack jokes every now and again. Okay.
David Hirsch: So very interesting. Was there anybody else that was a father figure your dad and your grandpas while you were growing up?
Brent Chase: Yeah, so I would say the most prevalent figure in my life was actually, uh, my one coach, his name was Derek Phillips. He was probably one of the coolest guys. I met. He kept on telling me stories of how he was so thankful that his dad actually was one of the few guys that didn’t leave when he was around as a kid.
And the one thing that he always wanted to be was a good father. So he helped, he would be my coach for soccer and helped train me, but a cool thing he always do is he would try to treat all of his players. His kids. And he would sit down with them and he would try to like level with them, talk the mouse, see if there’s anything wrong in their day, because he was very concerned with like the overall player.
But then like, as the years went on and I kept on, kept on being my coach, he would ask me if everything was all right. Cause he knew my situation at home. And by sort of took the role of being his son. And he was. Sit down with me. He actually helped me make decisions of where I should go to college and what I should end up doing with my life and sort of the lessons that he taught me were they should always do good onto others and you should fight for something bigger.
David Hirsch: So you’re still in contact with coach Phillips.
Brent Chase: I am I, whenever I try to go to Maryland, I always try to stop by. See how he’s doing.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. Yeah. Well, it sounds like you’ve learned a lot. Yeah. I always think about this as learning from role models, you emulate the good role models like coach Phillips, and maybe you can learn vicariously through some of the other role models in your life.
Um, so you don’t make the same mistakes and you’re a better person for that. Um, if you can be objective about, you know, what’s going on around you. So again, thanks for sharing. So, uh, I understand you went to Rochester Institute technical. Yes undergrad. And, um, you worked a little bit while you were going to school and, um, you were at Northwestern.
Yes. So what is your focus at Northwestern? From a university standpoint. And then we’ll talk about Pell and a little bit. Okay, cool.
Brent Chase: So I studied biomedical engineering in the graduate school through McCormick, uh, college. So it’s a big focus on neural engineering, combining, uh, brain computer interfaces.
So the idea is. That we can gather a physiological data from when people think or electrical impulses from the brain and we can enact type of therapies. So a lot of the studies were focused more on stroke patients and rehabilitation, and that kind of differs from I’m actually doing
David Hirsch: okay. And you’re in school.
Are you, are you going to graduate?
Brent Chase: So I’m going to graduate in June, 2019.
David Hirsch: Okay. So just another seven or eight months,
Brent Chase: 17 months.
David Hirsch: That’s exciting. So. Let’s talk about your connection to the special needs community from a personal perspective. And then we’ll talk about the work or the focus with Al. So before Alex diagnosis, I know that you were probably just four years old or so at the time.
Um, do you remember what your first reaction was when you really fully understood what Alex situation was?
Brent Chase: Uh, it was more like, Oh, that explains it. It was less. Sadness or disappointment and more just curiosity and happy to know that there was something to call it.
David Hirsch: Okay. And then by definition, there was a way to address that as opposed to addressing vague or unknown.
Yeah. Okay. What do you remember as some of the biggest challenges that you encountered because of Alex’s situation?
Brent Chase: Yeah. So from a personal perspective, it was more kind of the realization that I. Was it in gain the full benefit of having two parents. Um, but then from a bar brotherly perspective, it was more, I had a brother, but he wasn’t really there.
It was almost as if I have a brother that I never met. It was, I like to compare it to some of my friends that have siblings who are 20 plus years separation, where, you know, you have a sibling, but you don’t really have. Sibling they’re more just say distant stranger. Uh, so it was definitely hard growing up with the two of us, whenever we would be together.
I always tried to do activities with him and I would try to be with them and participate in anything he was trying to do. But a lot of times other people didn’t understand and they would always say, I say, why is he so weird that night, that to explain to them why he acts that way and still people didn’t fully grasp it.
And later in life, when it’s more open people have the internet and understand that there’s other types of people out there. It’s a little easier. Our relationship is mostly. I come home to Maryland. He sometimes comes up here. We played bass. Well, we’ll go running. He loves to wake up early. I love to work early, so we always have the mornings together.
Occasionally we’ll make breakfast together, but won’t be the same meal. He’ll have his own thing. Cause he likes other things other than me, but don’t sit down, eat, and then he’ll ask me if I want to watch something and I’ll watch something or I’ll play with him or somewhere other activity. So it was a very like friendly relationship we have, but he has his own type of interests.
And whenever I try to visit, I tried to spend some time with one-on-one.
David Hirsch: So your relationship has evolved. That’s what I hear you saying. Yeah. At first there might’ve been some resentment because the time and resources from your family, your mom and your dad are being more focused on Alec and some of the confusion around that.
And then as you get to be older and realize I’m not just the big brother, but I’m more like an adult with a child, you know, you do a lot of growing up. That’s what I heard you said. Yes. And, um, it’s interesting. I think you had mentioned that he’s not very high functioning intellectually. Yeah, but it sounds like he can not only understand, but he can do things like playing basketball and running and playing video games.
Is he verbal or nonverbal?
Brent Chase: So he’s verbal. He repeats words. Um, more or less, he does have some, he occasionally has very simplistic conversations, but they’re not full on original thoughts, but yeah, so he’s very low functioning at this point. Uh, he no longer can participate in school, age activities. He now lives at home with our mom.
Occasionally she takes him to college classes that are suited for individuals with autism, for the next stage of development, where the two of us are trying to come with ideas for what he can do. And I pitched a couple ideas and right now I’m trying to work on some things on the side to figure out what things he can do.
So my mom can work full time and he has something to do during the day.
David Hirsch: Well, that’s fabulous. Any supporting organizations that. Um, over the years, um, special Olympics organizations like
Brent Chase: that. Yeah. Uh, yeah, he’s huge in the special Olympics right now. He participates, I always forget how many different sports and different events, but at any one time, you always, there’s always like four different events or sports he’s doing each season.
Um, so he’s super active in that. He’s also participating as a cheerleader. Uh, well, he was when he was in our high school. School and to be there for all the different games and he’d be liberal dance crowd. He also does a little dance group that he has. He does like Zumba, every kind of activity possibly can imagine at the gym.
He loves to bike. He loves to play basketball. He also does horseback riding, which is a common thing. Uh, children with autism will do, but he doesn’t only do that for like therapy reasons. He also does it for fun. He like participates in competes in events. So he’s very active. And beyond that, He’s been working.
There’s a, one of the groups I actually done research with, um, Hussman Institute for autism. They’ve been coming out with more and more activities and things to do for social interactions. And it’s kind of been a blessing having had done research with them. And that was actually one of the reasons why they brought me on was I had a story behind it.
They also wanted to have like the first intern for doing the neuroscience research. So I said, yes.
David Hirsch: Okay. That’s awesome. And where is husband located?
Brent Chase: Uh, I think they’re in three locations right now. Um, they’re in Towson, Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, and Gainesville for that. Um, and they cover a whole spectrum from genomic sequencing to behavioral, um, therapy trainings to Dureau science research.
David Hirsch: Okay, wonderful. Thank you. What are some of the other things that you’ve done to help elk?
Brent Chase: Yeah. Um, well, so the most recent thing that. I just started doing like two weeks ago. So as I mentioned, a big thing for us right now is figuring out what the next step for him is. So we have the therapies, the therapies can only do so much and we’ll continue working with him to help try and tailor his care so he can be as independent as possible.
But the big concern was he has these very distracting meltdowns, which it becomes harmful for him, but also everyone else. And for that, it’s a big reason why he can’t have a job or having just conventional baggage voice. So a role that I had to fill was coming up with being his career advisor. So actually sort of going to the kitchen and the big thing he loves to do.
And the thing that we do together when we go home is we cook and he can cook and he loves to cook and he loves eating foods. So I actually am working on this little project that I think I have it down Pat now. And when I go home in a couple of weeks, I’m going to try out with him. Say gluten-free bar that is really simplistic to make.
And my hope is that if he likes it, he can start making it and start selling it. And then he could run this business alongside my mom of a, kind of like health bar ran by kids who have special needs. So that’s like one thing that I’m trying to do. So it will be his actual occupation and we no longer have to worry about some other workforce worrying about him having his meltdown.
Or unable to learn the ropes. And beyond that, I’ve been like a big advocate for him and I’ve been attending different autism events once host buyouts and speaks autism up autism society. And I’ve been traveling up and down East West the whole U S. Trying to just be an advocate, hearing people’s stories, figuring out what people have done.
And what’s worked with, uh, going back to my mom, trying to brainstorm with her, telling her what I’ve learned. She’s telling me what she learned and just trying to create as healthy environment for growth. Right.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. I really admire your commitment to your brother. I want to drill down on this idea for a gluten free bar.
Yeah. There’s a company that started here in Chicago, like a shoestring company. I’m sure you’re aware of it. RX pharmacy.
Brent Chase: Yeah.
David Hirsch: And they ended up selling to Kellogg for, yeah. What I will refer to as a gazillion dollars. I know it wasn’t a gazillion, but it was hundreds of millions of dollars. It started by a young guy in his thirties here.
And I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity instead of recreating the wheel from ground zero to tap into the brain trust there, share the idea with them and somehow draft behind them with the success and then just become. You know, a product of theirs now, they don’t have the autonomy they used to because they’re part of the Kellogg corporation on Mars, but there’s a local resource.
That’s the point. And I think if you were to put together a thoughtful email or inquiry, you would get a response and that would be a really cool thing. Yeah. So, anyway, thank you for sharing. That’s, uh, it’s very inspiring to come up with something that you know, is a unique right. And one of our podcast ads.
Yeah. And his son, John, who is in his early twenties, aged out of the educational system a couple of three years ago now. And, uh, the son wanted to go into business with his dad who was retiring and, uh, they started with this and stop. They started with something else they stopped. And then their idea which stuck, which is like a phenomena, an international phenomenon is called John’s crazy socks,
Brent Chase: which familiar Mark Cronin
David Hirsch: is the dad and John.
The company is named after, um, is the sun. And, uh, it’s a very inspiring story. I ran across one of their videos. Uh, my daughter, who was studying in London at the time, sent me this BBC story and I was like, wow, this is the coolest thing I have to meet these guys. And I was planning on visiting her and telling her, and maybe she could help connect me, you know, with this father, son duo in London or wherever they were in England.
And she wrote back, she’s like, dad, they’re in long Island, New York, the BBC just did a story on them just because they thought it was such a phenomenal story. So that one story has gone viral. It’s been viewed. I imagine now, well over 50 million times, right? So that hasn’t hurt their visibility and they have this attorney.
19,000 different types of socks and inventory, right. Ready to be shipped out within 24 hours. And the most amazing part of that story is that 14 of the 33 employees are people with disabilities. So if you find a niche, right, it’s not just something that your brother might be able to be involved with, but you know, who’s to say it doesn’t become something even bigger, something more amazing.
So my hats off to you best wishes with that. So let’s switch gears. Uh, the focus has changed here in graduate school, you and some colleagues, um, graduate school students at Northwestern university has started something called Pell. What is the concept and where did the idea come from?
Brent Chase: Yeah, so the original idea came from my brother.
Um, as I mentioned before, he has very debilitating meltdowns and I see how it affects, as I said before, the family, as well as the individual. So I had proposed as my senior capstone and undergrad over in Rochester, a smart apparel shirt for him because he hated things on his wrists for detecting when he was having a meltdown.
And the idea was if we can inform him what his emotional state is, then he can self regulate. Or if we can let someone else know such as myself or any other caregiver, who’s working with him at the time, then they can help kind of give them the extra push to. To mitigate to start doing his relaxation exercises.
Uh, and that’s how I originally started. And the funny enough thing was in the, I wrote 15 page proposal and in the byline for like two sentences, I wrote it can also be used for athletic rehabilitation uses. And my team who to the cofounders were on. I said, Oh, I want to do that. So we shifted gears from my, one of the dudes who making a smart apparel shirt for rehab purposes, but it was still the biosensing idea.
So my thought was, okay, I’ll do this. We’ll make it. Then I’ll make my brother’s thing at the end of the year. So we did that. We ended up winning a bunch of awards. In the upstate area, which was really cool. But then we started telling people how it was this device that could be used by kids with autism and suddenly we’re shifting back to what I wanted to do originally.
Um, so I ended up working out in the end from there. Two of the guys joined me while the rest went to get actual jobs and no longer continue projects. So Liam Hurley and Joseph Clifford continue onward with me. And we created this entity called Gaia wearables. And thus from there create pal or products for autism lifestyle.
David Hirsch: I love the idea. So who are the intended customers?
Brent Chase: So the 10 customers are parents of children with autism. We want to focus on the age group. So between four to 14 with a process for that early intervention, kind of learning how to self regulate.
David Hirsch: So it seems a little bit of a mystery to me. Yeah. This is a tee shirt that somebody would wear.
Yeah. There’s something embedded in it that somehow has some biosensors that are able to be interpreted electronically or with some device, either to the person wearing the shirt or to a cell phone somehow some way, please explain what the technology is that allows you to do what you’re
Brent Chase: talking about doing.
Um, so various. Similar to what Fitbit is, uh, but it’s not Fitbit. So it does the biosensing things such as the Fitbit with the heart rate monitoring, but then a lot more additions. So we call it a sensor embedded under Armour type compression shirt with a detachable core and a mobile application. So the idea is that the smart parallel shirt or sensor, and or can monitor biometrics such as heart rate.
Early notifications of these meltdowns sent wirelessly by the detachable core to the mobile application system and inform the individual with autism as well as any caregivers of the hot, uh, of ones, um, high risk of a meltdown.
David Hirsch: So what’s the lead time are we talking about the seconds or minutes or hours?
Brent Chase: Yeah. So right now, we, in our initial testing, it was a couple minutes, but a trigger that caused the meltdown can happen anywhere from hours to moments before. So our hope is not necessarily be able to tell two minutes before every single time we want to just provide the information that allows the individuals to eventually be more aware of their emotional state.
So this is sort of a. Stepping stone and not necessarily a crutch where we provide the information that they are a high risk of these meltdowns. And of course we may miss. We may only be able to tell you right before, because the triggers happen and the meltdown is instantaneous, but the idea is those mountains that don’t happen right away.
We can inform you the individual autism can. Self identify what’s happening. The carriers can identify, they can learn more from the experience in order to avoid the undesirable effects of the meltdown.
David Hirsch: And this was in the form of a tee shirt or was there some other type of wearable?
Brent Chase: Yeah. So right now we’re developing the tee shirt, but we also want to look into using arm bands as well as headphones in the future.
David Hirsch: And the technology exists to do that today.
Brent Chase: Yeah. Well, we’re in our phase three prototyping, so we made several prototypes before. And right now we’re working with a couple of manufacturers to help bring a more polished prototype.
David Hirsch: And is there any intellectual property that you’ve created some patents around already?
Or where is that?
Brent Chase: Yeah, so we have submitted our provisional patent already. And we’re looking to have that secure, uh, in the upcoming, well, having the final patent secure in the upcoming months.
David Hirsch: Okay. Is Northwestern helpful? With that type or are you on your own to seek out those services?
Brent Chase: Yeah, so the thing that we wanted to have was autonomy to do what ever we wanted with technology.
And we didn’t want to have to license anything from Northwestern. So everything was created by our in house engineers and everything is owned by our in house engineers. So Northwestern has been very helpful for directing what we can do or we can too, but luckily we have a lot of family, friends. Work in the law business.
Uh, they’ve been helping us out with all that.
David Hirsch: I love it. So the early feedback, what type of impact are you kidding? So
Brent Chase: people seem to like the idea so far, the big issue is people want to actually have it in hand. We’ve had a lot of people have requests. If they can purchase it right now, they can purchase a one to 10 and then start showing off to their friends.
And we’ve done quite a bit of in-person discussions, interviews identify that. This is a need and there’s a lot of options for us to expand.
David Hirsch: Okay. So you said during your third round of testing.
Brent Chase: Yeah.
David Hirsch: So what’s changed from Ron one neuron to Ron through.
Brent Chase: Yeah. So I think not only from, well, I think. Static is the big thing.
So our board originally was a size of an iPad, iPad touch to the iPad. It was huge. It was enormous. No one would ever use it. And the sensors and the shirt were frayed wires that we had sewn as engineers, um, where that’s not good for an actual user, especially one who has any sort of tactile, uh, uh, disorder or tactile, uh, needs.
So. We wanted to create something that was more user friendly. So the next iteration was more focused on the apparel. The next one from that was reduction in the board. So right now our bore is about the size of a business card. We’re looking to try and get as much as possible, but. Very unintrusive and very, I want to call it sexy.
Um, just how small the board has been reduced down to for the apparel itself. We have been working with a couple groups in upstate New York, but now we’re trying to work with some conductive materials groups to get more of a fabric like material fabric, like sensors, as opposed to the ones that we were using
David Hirsch: before.
Okay. So do you have a vision for where this is going or an expectation for that matter?
Brent Chase: Yes. So we want to have this done by quarter one of 2020. We want to have our first product released by then. But before that, we’re going to be participating in lot of different panels and conferences and talks as well as having a lot of events with the ASD community.
We’re focusing a lot, our efforts in Chicago and upstate New York, because that’s where the two locations we’re at. So we’re, we have a lot of, uh, closed test groups from the biosensing side to the user experience from the apparel to the users. Can with the mobile application to just more discussion groups, to make sure that we’re creating product that’s for the community made by the community.
David Hirsch: And what role is your brother played in all of this?
Brent Chase: Um, yeah, so the inspiration is the big thing. He also shows up in a lot of our posts. I have, whenever we have sort of prototype together, we bring it down to him. We get his opinion of it so far. It’s been. Okay. Um, it’s always fun. Just talking with him about anything, uh, because he’ll be the best reaction.
I feel like it is no reaction whenever I give him something. Cause if he doesn’t like it he’ll make it known, but if he likes it, then he’ll pretend like it’s. Yeah, it’s no big deal. So, so far I haven’t gotten any big reactions from him, which is good. And it’s promising, especially because the initial prototypes weren’t that great, but I think he just likes the attention, likes to be part of it.
And whenever I give him something and then start taking pictures with them. So
David Hirsch: have you had anybody test the product to your brother or other individuals with autism to see if it’s actually working or are you still more of a lab situation?
Brent Chase: Yeah, it’s still a lot more of a live situation that we’re at.
Um, we’re also waiting to get IRB approval so we can start testing on kids with autism.
David Hirsch: What’s IRB,
Brent Chase: institutional review, board research board, it’s specifically for academia, but there’s also an IRB process done for industry and basically a group it’s a body that makes sure that what you’re doing, um, complies with standards for doing research on people.
So, yeah. Don’t break any laws that could injure be dangerous, either physically or mentally to individuals. Okay.
David Hirsch: Well, there’s gotta be some regulation. Yeah. These products just because of the nature of the products. Well, thank you for sharing. That’s very inspiring. I love to interview you again. You’re a couple of years down the road and see where you are with this product course or whatever products might come out of all this.
So I’m wondering, um, From a sibling’s perspective. Um, if there’s any important takeaways that come to mind as it relates to having a sibling with differences, advice that you might offer
Brent Chase: to all our siblings. Yeah. Uh, I think it really, the big parts are like what time of your life you’re at. So when I was younger, I feel like the biggest one is to always just keep your head high and be proud of who they are.
Um, if people start shaming or if people just. Understand what’s wrong or they keep on pointing fingers, walk up to them or make it known, like educate them, let them know like, what is happening, why your sibling acts the way they do. And then stand side by side with them as they are doing their thing.
They’re dancing, they’re jumping around, they’re waving their arms and do it with them from later in the years. Very similar thing, letting people know what happens, but really more embrace who they are and understand that life may not be any different from what it has been or where it’s at and just know that they are a sibling of yours and they care about you as much as anyone else would care about a sibling.
And even though they may not be able to show it, you should still understand that the way that they’re expressing. Their love for you or their interaction with you. Is there them
David Hirsch: great advice? What advice can you share with siblings about helping their siblings reach their full potential?
Brent Chase: Just support them in everything they do.
So my brother loves cheerleading. He loves doing sports, be available, show up for events that they’re doing. Be a fan of their passions and support them. Them and whatever they, they like to do sit down with them, spend time with them, encourage them to grow. I feel like one big thing when my brother was younger was he was so stuck on Barney and watching these shows.
And eventually I tried to help him grow out that and sort of learn other things and try to introduce new things to him. And eventually he is. Seem to love those and then became more of a constant change for him that he was okay with it because I know one big thing for, for kids with autism is they’ll necessarily change.
But when I saw something that he liked, and then I knew of other things that he may enjoy, and I encouraged him to do those new activities. Then he started building association that change wasn’t that bad from there, he was able to start adjusting and trying new things and growing slightly more and more as a person.
David Hirsch: Great advice. Um, I think we’re all creatures of habit. Not just people with autism. No, we’re not quick to make changes getting outside of our comfort zone and maybe it’s more exacerbated with people with autism, right. They just like to stay in their lane, do what they’re familiar with and repetition isn’t as cumbersome.
Typically for somebody with autism, they’re very much. You used to repetition. Yeah. Let’s give Billy banks’ at Northwestern university, a shout out for introducing us. I know that he’s had an important influence on the work that you’re doing. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up one of the person that’s kind of been a father, father figure?
Brent Chase: Uh, she’s not necessarily a father figure as my mom. She’s always been great support. And even though like growing up with very hard throughout the years, and as I got older, I started to learn more and more of like what she needed to do and very simple. Emily to, uh, we talked about before all this was I I’m her world and she would give up anything.
And as I grew up, it kind of became more and more prevalent and sort of, I took the Helms of that and understood that now I need to make my brother and what my work is, my world to help other
David Hirsch: people. It’s fabulous. Well, I think we both have a passion for single moms, you know, because our moms didn’t set out to be single moms, but.
We’re great mothers, right. That unconditional love that you’ll probably never experience, you know, in this lifetime. And that’s really important to recognize. So if somebody wants information on pale or to contact you, how would they go about doing that?
Brent Chase: Yeah. Um, so right now the website, it says Gaia wearables.
So G a I a, and the word wearables, um, dot com that most likely will change in the near future. That’s a great way to contact us, even get part of some of our research and work that we want to do as well as our newsletters. You can also get, catch me at Brent at Gaia. wearables.com is my direct email, and I’m always messaging people back and forth.
We’re on all the different social media since all the same name. Another fun thing that we’re doing is we’re actually having a panel on autism, on technology and autism at South by Southwest. I’m a year. So
David Hirsch: when is that going to be
Brent Chase: a it’s between March 8th and March 12th.
David Hirsch: Okay. Brent, thank you for taking the time and many insights.
As a reminder, the Special Fathers Network is a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stcenturydads.org.
Thanks again, Brent.
Brent Chase: Thank you. And thank you.
Tom Couch: Listening to the dad, to dad podcast. The dad’s dad podcast is produced by Couch Audio for the Special Fathers Network. If you enjoy our podcast, be sure to like us on Facebook. The special father’s network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process.
New fathers would. Special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers, go to 21stcenturydads.org. That’s 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help. We’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group.
Please go to facebook.com, roofs and search dad to dad.
Tom Couch: And again, to find out more about the special dish network, go to 21stcenturydads.org, 21stcenturydads.org.