New Apartment Complex in Phoenix Helps Adults With Autism Live Independently

Stephen G. Dreiseszun, Viewpoint Photographers
Stephen G. Dreiseszun, Viewpoint Photographers

The aspects of apartment life that are annoying to many residents—like thin walls and harsh fluorescent lighting—can be debilitating to people living with autism. First Place—Phoenix, a new apartment complex in Arizona's capital city, is the first housing facility of its kind to take such factors into consideration and build a comfortable living environment specifically for adults with autism, AZ Central reports.

Denise Resnik was inspired to found First Place after looking for a home where her son Matt, who has autism, could live independently as an adult. When she realized the place she was envisioning didn't exist, she decided to bring it into the real world herself.

The four-story, 81,000-square-foot building comprises 55 apartments and cost $15.4 million to open. Some features, like sound barriers that block street traffic, special lighting, and a staff that's on call 24/7, were put in place to cater to the needs and sensitivities of the building's residents. Others, like the Arizona Cardinals-themed game room and a communal kitchen on the first floor, are simply there to make First Place a fun place to live and build a sense of community among residents. In the actual apartments, tenants have access to their own modern kitchens as well as "grab and go" stations where they can charge their phones and deposit their keys in the same spot.

For $4000 a month, residents get their own apartment, utilities, access to the building's staff, and classes at GateWay Community College focused on transitioning them to independent, adult life. People wishing to waive the community college classes can sign up for the same apartment and amenities starting at $3300 a month for a two-bedroom.

First Place is currently home to 32 adults, ranging in age from their early twenties to mid-forties. After monitoring the project in Arizona, Resnik hopes to bring First Place complexes to different cities around the country.

[h/t AZ Central]

High Levels of Arsenic Found in Bottled Water From Whole Foods and Dr Pepper


If you're concerned about drinking unfiltered water from your tap at home, bottled water isn't automatically the safer option. As USA Today reports, tests conducted by the California nonprofit Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found that the arsenic levels in two popular bottled water brands exceed those found in the state's tap water.

The affected brands are the Keurig Dr Pepper-owned Peñafiel and Whole Foods-owned Starkey. The arsenic content in each product hasn't prompted a federal recall, but CEH discovered that it does violate state guidelines. CEH sent notices to both companies informing them that their products must be printed with health warnings disclosing the presence of arsenic under California’s consumer protection law Proposition 65.

Arsenic is safe, and often unavoidable, in very small amounts, but in high concentrations it can be harmful. Drinking water with unsafe levels of arsenic can lead to cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental issues in children.

An earlier report released by Consumer Reports in April found that the same brands analyzed by CEH had twice the federal limit of arsenic in their bottled water. Keurig Dr Pepper stopped production of its Peñafiel water, which is sold at Target, Walmart, and elsewhere, for two weeks following Consumer Reports's tests. Starkey water bottles are sold at Whole Foods.

Even if they meet safety standards, many popular water brands contain trace amounts of arsenic. Consumer Reports has found acceptably low arsenic levels in Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Deer Park, Fiji, and Poland Spring products.

[h/t USA Today]

These ASMR-Ready Headphones Promise to Lull You to Sleep


What do hushed whispers, gently tapping fingernails, and Bob Ross’s voice have in common? They’re all examples of triggers that may cause what’s known as an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), or, as succinctly explains it, a “calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation” that can be triggered by soothing stimuli. ASMR has recently been recognized as an effective relaxation technique for those looking to calm their nerves; now, ASMR enthusiasts and novices alike can experience it in the form of a sleep-ready headband.

Upon first glance, SleepPhones: ASMR Edition may look like just a fabric headband, but the device actually features flat speakers tucked into soft, stretchy, eco-friendly material. Unlike regular headphones, SleepPhones can be worn comfortably to bed, even if you sleep on your side, and they come preloaded with content designed to help you relax. They feature eight hours of built-in ASMR content by 16 different ASMR artists (or ASMRtists), including but not limited to tracks with rhythmic tapping and "peaceful Italian whisperings."

A close-up of the SleepPhones speaker technology

The speaker components of SleepPhones

Using SleepPhones is designed to be a stress-free experience. The speakers have the ability to play for 20 ad-free hours with a mere three-hour charging time in between. There are also zero cords involved, meaning you won’t get all tangled up as you lie down or if you have a tendency to toss and turn at night. The small button located in the back of the headband allows you to start, pause, or skip tracks and control the volume.

For people looking for ways to relax beyond yoga and meditation, ASMR may be the way to go. One study observed that subjects watching ASMR videos not only reported feeling that aforementioned pleasant tingling, but were also found to have reduced heart rates.

You can get a pair of your own SleepPhones on Kickstarter with a pledge of $75 or more. They come in three different sizes with seven colors from which to choose.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!