Attorney With Autism Invents 'Sensory Shield' for Metro Rides

Woman with a sensory processing disorder created a device to keep her feeling secure on Metro

Thursday, Aug 30, 2012  |  Updated 11:35 AM EDT
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A local woman with autism invents a device that helps her ride more comfortably in close proximity to other riders on Metro.

Tony Tull

A local woman with autism invents a device that helps her ride more comfortably in close proximity to other riders on Metro.

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Overcrowded Metro trains are pretty typical during rush hour, but for one local woman a packed train poses more of a threat.

Lisa Daly is autistic and has a sensory processing disorder, making her highly sensitive to touch, texture, light and sound.

After too many uncomfortable rides from Rockville into D.C. on the way to her job as a congressional lawyer, Daly came up with a solution. She created her own sensory shield.

"It's allowing her to function in society in a way that she is able to carry on her day-to-day activities [and], her job," said Dr. Susan Rich. "[T]his provides her an ability to carry on with her life."

The L-shaped device keeps a seatmate from accidentally touching her or bumping into her. She sits on one section to stabilize the device, with the other "arm" of it coming between her and the person in the seat neat to her.

"I can sit on it, so I don't have to touch the Metro seat, and then there's the partition that goes between me and the next passenger," Daly said.

Other riders weren't phased by Daly's use of the sensory shield. In fact, some people wanted one of their own. "I don't want anybody to touch me," another passenger said, laughing.

Daly says the shield is just a prototype but that if she makes more, they will be more user-friendly. This type of shield wouldn't work for those left standing on the train.

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