Created in partnership with US charity the Autism Society and announced during Autism Acceptance Month (April), the new products for Chrysler’s Pacifica minivan address the fact that vehicles can be overstimulating, uncomfortable and stressful for people on the autism spectrum. The set includes a cordless sound and light therapy machine, soft-touch velvet seat belt sleeve, travel pillow, weighted sensory blanket, and a seat-back organiser to keep everything out of the way when not in use. Items can be purchased separately or as a bundle.
Though not technically part of the package, the digital system in the minivan’s embedded touchscreen also addresses a key accessibility component, displaying buttons for prompts – such as “I want”, “yes/no”, “eat” and “play” – with easy-to-understand pictures. This enables passengers to communicate with the driver without using verbal language, which is useful for autistic individuals who have difficulty expressing themselves.
More broadly, automakers are incorporating tactile and visual cues to reduce stress and promote relaxation. British marque Bentley, for instance, recently collaborated with neuroscientists to create the wellbeing-focused Azure range of vehicles, which seek to promote a serene atmosphere via colour, texture and scent.
Chrysler joins a growing number of major brands developing accessible products and services to enhance daily life for users with a wide array of needs and abilities.