We all like hugs. They make us feel loved and protected. But there is more to it than that!
For many individuals with sensory regulation challenges, the deep pressure input that hugs provide can help regulate their sensory system. Many kids will squish themselves under couch cushions, wear a heavy backpack, or crash into things in search of that Deep Pressure. Why?
It all has to do with the proprioceptive system. For most of us, we are quite aware of our where our bodies are in space. We can keep our eyes on the road while adjusting the pressure we apply to the pedals of a car. We can pass a basketball without looking at our hand. We can put a spoon in our mouth without needing a mirror. This is because our entire nervous system is working together to tell us where our body is and make adjustments to meet the requirements of the situation.
Want to test your proprioception? Watch this video!
For individuals on the autism spectrum, their nervous system doesn’t always give them enough feedback. Just as they may be under or over sensitive to touch, they may also have trouble figuring out where their body is in space. This results in anxiety and an inability to focus. Other sensory challenges such as loud noises and bright lights can set off a chain reaction, often making it hard for people with autism to be in grocery stores, eat at restaurants and concentrate in school.
One of the common solutions for this is Deep Pressure Therapy. The idea of Deep Pressure was originated by Dr. Temple Grandin when she famously asked to be squished in her family’s cattle squeeze shoot. For Grandin, as with many individuals on the spectrum, touch was a challenge. Having a machine that could provide her the pressure without the social and physical complications of a human hug was the perfect solution. She went on to invent the Squeeze Machine and introduce the world to Deep Pressure Therapy.
Deep Pressure Therapy is used in therapy centers, homes and schools to help keep people on the spectrum calm. Common types of Deep Pressure include the “burrito roll” (rolling the individual in a carpet), using a rolling pin to provide pressure, and hugs.
There are also many products that can help provide deep pressure. The lack of portability and expense of the Hug Machine led to weighted vests, neoprene vests, and now available at Got-Autism, Snug Vest.
Snug Vest is a vest that uses air to provide portable Deep Pressure Therapy, and looks stylish doing it! By not using weight it is safe for the user, and the amount of pressure can be adjusted to the exact amount the user needs. The size is also adjustable so that the wearer doesn’t grow out of it.
Snug Vest is used in classrooms, therapy centers, homes and communities across North America. It has helped kids like 4 year-old Antony shop at Walmart, 16 year-old Danny eat at restaurants, and 8 year-old Buddy improve his handwriting.
Click here to learn more about Snug Vest and see if it might help you or your child!
Want to learn more about how Deep Pressure Therapy works? Listen to Occupational Therapist & Neurobiologist Kim Barthel explain how it works!