“Gimme a Big Hug!” This Chair for Kids on the Spectrum is AWESOME!A. Stout
Have you ever heard of the “Squeeze Machine?” In case it’s completely foreign to you, it’s a device created by Temple Grandin as a therapy technique that squeezes its users and calms them. It’s especially effective for those with autism and ADHD.
This machine was what inspired Kansas businessman Stuart Jackson’s invention — a less expensive variation that draws on the same concept. He called it the Sensory Lounger™.
This funky chair is meant to comfort and soothe kids with autism who suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder (in other words, more than 90 percent of kids with ASD).
Though it was Jackson’s idea, a group of high school students from the Blue Valley School District CAPS Program actually created the chair.
To accomplish this, the aspiring engineers stuffed two airbags into a lounger, which deploy almost noiselessly and “hug” whoever is sitting in it. They did an excellent job with it, too; their work made it into the 2015 Edison Awards in NYC and won bronze in their category.
For those with ASD, this chair could be super useful; studies have shown that deep touch pressure soothes anxiety caused by sensory overload. So to treat or prevent a meltdown, a child could sink into this lounger. And according to Jackson, the child can also squirm around to soothe him- or herself.
Allegedly, it’s an effective tool; Jackson tested it on his son, Joshua, who has severe autism, and said, “He comes out of it, and he’s a completely different person.” He also found similar results in other elementary-aged children.
When the Sensory Lounger™ launches in 2016, it will initially be sold to occupational therapists and special education centers. Eventually, however, it will be available for commercial use as well.