Once before, the Hughes Brothers have begun a review of an autism product – a three-sided toothbrush – by discussing immediately its price, in the brush’s case a paltry five dollars. You should know up front here, in our opinion, that the autism therapy provided in these machines costs as much as six hundred dollars in small, mechanically simple devices for children to more than six thousand dollars for an adult-size, hydraulically controlled model. The Hughes Brothers understand the unavoidable obstacle that sometimes price alone can impose.
A lyrical approach to the squeeze machine
A new book is hitting the autism shelves, How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine, story of an inventive little girl who wanted to be held, but who didn’t like hugs because, to her, “hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. . . . Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn’t receive a hug, she would make one…she would build a hug machine!”
A technical approach to the squeeze machine
A squeeze machine – also known as a hug box, a squeeze machine, or a squeeze box – is a device bringing deep pressure as a means of calming people with autism who struggle with issues of hypersensitivity. In fact, invented by a woman named Temple Grandin as in the story above, the machine delivers sensory relief for people who find it uncomfortable or impractical to turn to other human beings for comfort.
Fairly simple in its initial construction, the squeeze machine involved two hinged side-boards, each four feet by three feet, covered with thick padding, the two boards forming a V-shape. The user lies between the side-boards and adjusts the pressure therefrom using an air compressor.
The Squeeze Machine from especial Needs
Available on Amazon, the Squeeze Machine theoretically works better than weighted blankets because larger amounts of pressure can be applied over larger areas of the body. The air cylinder maintains constant pressure, even if the user changes position.
Most importantly, the pressure – in its amount and its duration – remains in the strict, precise control of the user.
The Squeeze Machine: The structural details
· 60″ tall, 60″ long and 32″ wide
· Constructed from 13-ply 3/4″ birch plywood, sealed and lacquered for a durable smooth finish
· All edges rounded to ensure safety
· High-quality air controls with multiple safety devices
· Fully adjustable, with more than a foot of adjustment in width at the base
· Slots for comfortable placement of the headrest
· Movable control center
· Pads to accommodate either children or adults
· Supports up to 250 pounds
An enduring hope
The Squeeze Machine’s makers extend the possibility: “Since the machine is designed to feel very much like being held by another person, the device might help the user to accept, and perhaps enjoy, being held or touched by another.”
As a matter of fact, Temple Grandin herself admitted that she no longer uses her invention. “”It broke two years ago, and I never got around to fixing it. I’m into hugging people now.”
Moving Mountains, a child’s squeeze machine
Also available on Amazon and retailing just under seven hundred dollars, this much simplified machine – using bands for tension and pressure – will serve children with issues of touch.
· Adjustable pressure rollers for sensory and massage therapies
· Easily adapts to the child’s specific needs for stimulation
· Cushioned foam rollers for even consistent pressure
· Easily portable
· Vinyl-covered rollers for durable wear and easy cleaning