Squeeze Machines, Hug Machines, And The Like

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

MORE INFO HERE:Moving Mountains Single Squeezer

Games and Toys for Children with Autism

The Hughes Brothers have observed what you too have long known: a Google or Amazon search for “Toys for Children with Autism” will produce more configurations of soft plastic than three Wal-Marts might ever hold. That said, we’ve picked out, firstly, a game unlike any we’ve seen before and, secondly, a toy collection that to our minds represents the positives and negatives of the genre in a most democratic way, consistent with its cousins on Page, oh, 127 of the Amazon listings.

We begin with a game, a toy that stands alone, as far we know, uncopied.

Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids

Actually, the longish name of the product (not included here) includes adult participation in the fun, the maker suggesting that this pin art thingee will serve “kiddos as young as eight to adults looking for a great way to kill the time,
hone their creativity, or relieve some stress.”

Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids Specs

Let’s turn to the specifics.

· An immediate, accessible means of self-expression. In three dimensions. From the most basic of shapes to configurations approaching works of art.

· Simplicity itself: the creativity arises from the pushing of pins into a board that then brings to life all this eye-catching design. From nothing but blacks and chromes come these fulfilling demonstrations of thought and feeling.

· The board a six-inch star shape that, again per the manufacturer, “makes your cool creation stand out even more.”

· Built to last, this star and its pins – the latter designed to remain exactly where you put them, no slipping out hereabouts with these corrosion-resistant stainless steels pins ready for insertion into a board lightweight but still sturdy, sturdy in its hard, enduring plastic; the result, pins that remain year after year, rust-free, unbending, waiting for good times and creative thought.

· Ready to be a semi-permanent item of décor; again, per its makers, “time-honored metal pin art, a great stress-reliever” and, with enough original ideas, “an awesome conversation starter.” (The Hughes Brothers seem to be relying rather heavily on the promotional verbiage of the pin-art games’ creators. To be sure, but only because we agree wholeheartedly with the claims.)

· Soothing means of sharing focus and enjoyable passage of the hours with children all along the autism spectrum.

· Guaranteed product satisfaction; total and complete money-back guarantee; upon any sort of dissatisfaction either an immediate replacement or a full refund of the really quite reasonable fifteen-dollar purchase price.

Any one of your generic “sensory processing, learning resource, anxiety relief, stress reduction, fidgeting” implements.

The Hugheses threw one of Brother Curtis’ competitive darts at a list of the toys described above and, lo and behold, there stuck the page belonging to, of all people, Mr. E=MC2 and his Twelve Tools for Kids. Here’s what will arrive with your order.

Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids includes

· Big MC’s variety value pack including knobby balls, pencil grips, stretchy string, squeeze ball, puzzle balls, lizards – no fooling, lizards, and there toward the bottom of the package, smiley emoji men

Here are the values toward which the value pack aspires.

· Increased attention, greater focus and construction.

· Reduction of anxiety and, get this!, wiggles.

· Academic applications: increased reading fluency and comprehension, more writing skills.

· Self-regulation for children all along the autism spectrum.

· “Uniquely satisfying tactile sensation.”

· Nice pairing of the elements of this kit with sensory necklaces, chewelry, koosh balls, putty, and sensory weighted blankets or vests.

Mr. E suggests that his purpose throughout remains “an inexpensive starter bundle” so that parents and teachers might locate the specific toys that answer individual kiddos’ individual needs.

Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids Reviews

And then there come the complaints.

· Cheaply constructed.

· “Not what I expected.”

· And “a complete waste of time.”

This last comment a bit harsh, huh?

The Hughes Brothers recommendation: these sets of toys are a dime a dozen dollars, a hit and miss proposition involving your beloved little one’s likes and dislikes. So. Pick one, much as Curtis’ magic dart, and see what for less than fifteen bucks you might find to like.

MORE INFO HERE:6” Star Pin Art Game for Kids or Adults by ArtCreativity-Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids-Stainless Steel Metal Pins, Sturdy Plastic Frame-Great Party Favor/Gift for Boys-Girls/Office Desk Decoration


The Hughes Brothers apologize for a too-sweeping statement in the review just above. The pin art toy described there is not unique. We just ran across another toy built on the same premise, the Rhode Island Novelty Pin Point Impressions Metal Pin Art. We continue to believe, however, that we reviewed the clearly superior product.

Book: The Autism Playbook for Teens

The Autism Playbook for Teens: Imagination-Based Mindfulness Activities to Calm Yourself, Build Independence, and Connect with Others (The Instant Help Solutions Series)

Today’s nominee for longest book title in the library, the Playbook comes to you with borrowed recommendation from the Hughes Brothers. From John Howard Hughes in particular, the current rancher and erstwhile cowboy, who says, “As soon as I encountered Temple Grandin’s endorsement for the book, I was sold. Sold completely. Temple Grandin taught me more about handling cattle than any other single source, including my family and my neighbors. If she recommends this book, dealing with teenagers now, as a “real, practical and positive guide for reducing stress,” well, that’s more than enough for me.”

The Autism Playbook for Teens Book Review: Acting as a means of dealing with autism

Take the “playbook” of the title literally. The premise here: teenagers with autism can be outstanding actors, given their natural proclivity for observation. Teen girls, in particular, have developed remarkable abilities to witness, to imitate, and to internalize appropriate, effective social behaviors.

Many of the recommended exercises come directly from theater, from the lessons to be taught an actor. The thinking here: such exercises help a teenager with autism learn body language – other people’s and their own – as an expression of deeper feeling; how tone of voice becomes appropriate to various roles; how scripting ahead of time can help a teen arrive at school, at a party or sporting event, with relationship skills already practiced. Or rehearsed rather.

And so the book trots out strategies for mindfulness and scripts for roleplaying, each geared toward the reduction of anxiety, living in the present moment, reduction of fears and, ultimately, real and deep and abiding connections with others.

The playbook addresses head-on the issues of teen life – anxiety, bullying, depression, eating disorders, problems with self-esteem, and trauma of several sorts. A teenager with autism will learn here the coping skills now that will take them into adulthood, meanwhile delivering the tools necessary for finding one’s way through school and home-life.

The Autism Playbook for Teens Book Review: A quick trip through the contents

The book begins with breathing. Teens can learn the immediate, the always there calming effect of meaningful, intentional breathing, breathing as a means of focus and fending off anxious moments.

The Hughes Brothers found Chapter 3 novel and appealing. It deals with what the authors call a “pause button,” a means of confronting a difficult situation by first becoming comfortable with oneself, a minute or two of gathering one’s strength, one’s purpose in dealing with whatever life might send along.

The second part of the book deals with management of thoughts, with finding the energy in one’s feelings, all as building blocks toward true and lasting independence. Chapter 8 here gives very practical, quite useful advice in controlling anger, as the chapter’s title suggests, “Basic Meltdown Prevention.”

Part III of the book looks outward, demonstrating means of connection with other people while retaining control of . . . no, directing one’s own life. In one particularly innovative chapter here, the authors discuss the role that curiosity, simple curiosity might play in enlivening a young person with autism, in finding new sources of intellectual satisfaction, personal interest and, ultimately, joy.

The Autism Playbook for Teens Book Review: A summation

Some of the book’s pronouncements seem obvious, but they bear repeating in the context of a teenager trying to locate himself among social situations that perhaps have troubled him since early childhood. Case in point: a chapter entitled “Practice kindness: Make Friends.”

The book remains one of a kind, however, the only book available for teens with autism combining the comfort and calm of mindfulness skills with an active, a kinetic resource for building authentic social experiences.

And as John Hughes reminds us, “If it’s good enough for Temple Grandin, it’s good enough for me.”

MORE INFO HERE: The Autism Playbook for Teens: Imagination-Based Mindfulness Activities to Calm Yourself, Build Independence, and Connect with Others (The Instant Help Solutions Series)

LUNA Kids Natural Sleep Aid Tablets for Children

The LUNA details.

Made for children four-plus years of age, also sensitive adults (The Hughes Brothers offer no suggestion what constitutes sensitivity in the case of grown-ups.)

Sixty chewable pills in each bottle, usually retailed at $15 or so

Very gentle, entirely safe for children

Herbal ingredients: chamomile, valerian, lemon balm

And melatonin, which LUNA lumps with the other herbs when, truly, melatonin is a hormone, secreted by the pineal gland in the brain

The story of a sleep-aid with some maturity about it.

The principal ingredients in LUNA tablets have been used for centuries to improve sleep. Chamomile and lemon balm bring calming, soothing help to the tired child. Valerian root functions as a mild sedative. All gentle and non-habit forming.

Now about that melatonin.

LUNA claims that “We add a very small amount of melatonin to nudge your child to sleep at night without feeling groggy in the morning.” Okay, fine.

But know this: melatonin inevitably leads to more REM sleep, that deep slumber wherein dreams arise. REM sleep is a phenomenon of normal circadian rhythm (the daily progress of waking hours and sleep in its various cycles), and the dreams do follow.

A consideration about your child’s dreams.

The Hughes Brothers have encountered complaints from parents who admit that the LUNA tables do indeed help their children fall asleep, stay asleep. But. But some of the dreams which follow are no fun at all. Nightmarish in a heart-wrenching way for parents who overhear their child enthralled to a bad, bad dream.

We must caution the post-hoc/propter-hoc logical fallacy here. Just because the poor child suffered through some personal boogymen after taking melatonin, that fact does necessarily that the poor child suffered through some personal boogymen because of taking melatonin.

At the same time, we know children who report fairy-tale dreams, happy endings all around, after using LUNA a half-hour before bedtime.

Your child’s friend, vitamin D.

LUNA tablets bring along a major boost of supplemental vitamin D3. Essential for good health all around, a healthful level of vitamin D has been shown to enhance quality of sleep and, come morning, to uplift kiddos’ mood.

Meanwhile, the tablets themselves are kid-friendly.

Parents, take comfort in LUNA pills popping into little Junior’s eager mouth with no sugar whatsoever, with a flavor of tropical berries that LUNA bets he’s going to like. All natural flavors, of curse, with stevia-leaf extract and xylitol, a sweet-tasting crystalline alcohol derived from xylose, as found in some plant tissues.

Now, about dosages.

The bottle dose says “one tablet twenty or thirty minutes before bedtime.” Some parents have experimented with dosages ranging from a half-tablet for very young or, again, “sensitive” children, while two tables have proven best for teenagers.

Noteworthy: Mike Hughes’ daughters have encountered families wherein whatever dosage has been given is, for some reason or other, interrupted. Each of those families report next-morning regression, after restless sleep and consequent lethargy and rotten mood.

About the price.

Pure melatonin, over the counter, costs less than the average cost for sixty LUNA tablets, but some parents believe that the rather miniscule amount of melatonin here interferes less with the pineal gland’s usual work.

Lastly, about LUNA the company.

The Hughes Brothers admit being softies for sentiment, genuine sentiment, and LUNA manifests such here, there, and all the time. We mean, here’s a pharmaceutical company asking for it all: “You are our beloved customers. And we hope you’ll love us too.” These folks advertise “a new standard of honesty in the health supplement industry.” LUNA insists on third-party testing of every batch of supplements off the line. Good gosh, they seek happiness as a consequence of using their products.

One could do worse.

LUNA Kids | 1 Sleep Aid Tablets for Children 4+ and Sensitive Adults | Naturally Sourced Ingredients | 60 x Chewable Pills | Gentle, Herbal Supplement with Chamomile, Melatonin, Valerian & Lemon Balm

The NASA Sleep Promoting Light Bulb

“Sleep well, astronauts,” this sleep-enhancing bulb says from Houston Control. Few endorsements of any product carry the heft of “NASA,” and if NASA suggests that this light bulb promotes sleep, well then who are we Hughes Brothers to argue. We’re told by the seller, the specialized gift-givers over at Hammacher Schlemmer, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses the bulb “to help astronauts sleep in peace.” Indeed if anyone were deserving of eight solid hours of easy sleep, it would be our nation’s intrepid space travelers.

The Hughes Brothers offer you this review, for adults with sleep difficulties as well as for younger people with ASD.

Our friend, melatonin.

The theory behind the bulb involves the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.


Typical light bulbs emit high levels of short-wavelength blue light that suppresses melatonin. By filtering out the blue light – up to a fifty percent reduction claims HS – the NASA bulb encourages a better night’s sleep. As with so many products developed in NASA labs, a patent covers the filter. Typical use of the bulb would call for a half-hour’s reading or crossword solving by the light of the bulb in a bedside lamp, maintaining the body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to falling asleep faster and waking more refreshed. (The nine-watt LED gives off the same light as a 65-watt incandescent – perfect light for reading – but lasts, we’re told, up to sixteen times longer.) A lifetime guarantee from Hammacher Schlemmer accompanies the bulb. Whether sleep improves or not.

“Not a bad bulb,” says Mike Hughes.

Mike, the youngest of the Hughes boys, confronts insomnia occasionally after long power-hours at his NASA-strength computer. He used the bulb to “pretty good” effect. “The first couple of nights, the bulb produced no noticeable results. But I persisted, and by week’s end I was most definitely sleeping better. And longer. Far less of the tossing and turning that has bothered me for several years now.”

Two of us older brothers fared even better. Dave Hughes reported “dramatic improvement,” Dave even more sleep-deprived than our little brother. “My first night using the bulb I slept nine hours, waking only once, and then just because of the neighbor’s damn barking dog.” Even loud-mouthed Barky, however, could not prevent our drowsy brother from falling almost immediately back to sleep.

Big bladders help. They really, really do.

James Hughes owns the biggest bladder in the family – hell, in the whole town – and he has heretofore escaped the thrice-nightly pees that plague the continuity of brother John Howard Hughes’ otherwise workable slumber. So James did fall asleep faster, he thinks, over the course of a week’s use, while John – who has always been first to fall asleep – found the bulb no help in countering the urges of a urinary tract he refuses to keep free of evening Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Some sleep problems simply can’t be helped without a fifty-or-so-watt increase in willpower.

Our friends, the holistic medicine crowd.

We Hughess know of friends, consumers of holistic medical care, who first used the bulb because of its non-pharmaceutical nature. Unfortunately, a couple of those folks report no help at all, not in the quickness or the quality or the duration, of their sleep. From our experience, both personal and reported, the bulb does bat at least .750 in a very tough league.

And, its sleep-inducing properties aside, everyone agrees that the soft radiance of the bulb’s light could not be warmer, nor more soothing. One of the Hughes wives mentioned that her complexion had never looked better.

A bit pricey – the cost not a deal-breaker, but a consideration.

Oh, at forty bucks the bulb is a bit pricey. Should it work as intended, however, it will quickly pay for itself with money saved on other, consumable sleep aids. And a final note: the bulb need not be used alone; in conjunction with other sleep stimulators, a very workable package might be discovered.

Laminated Shower Chart

Just made for children autism or with special needs otherwise, this waterproof chart goes directly into the shower to help the child take care of personal hygiene with some independence, some assurance, some thoroughness.

Here’s the procedure.

The Hughes Brothers are sold on the attention to detail, the sheer amount of solid information on a chart measuring but nine-by-eleven inches. The steps follow.

· Turn on water. (with a neat little inset showing the “just right” temperature setting on the shower knob)

· Wet body.

· Get 1 pump of soap (with a visual instruction to push down on the soap dispenser, labeled “3 in 1,” indicating the soap’s usefulness as a shampoo, a facial cleanser, and a body cleanser)

· Wash hair.

· A repeat now: get 1 pump of soap.

· Wash face.

· Wash ears.

· Wash neck.

· Rinse all soap off.

· Get two pumps of soap.

· Wash chest.

· Wash arms.

· Wash stomach.

· Wash legs.

· Wash feet (with a cautionary instruction, “Lean on wall.”)

· Wash private area and bottom.

· Rinse all soap off.

· Finished. Turn off water.

· Get towel and dry all off.

· Great job.

Please understand that each of these guidances is accompanied by a cartoon drawing of a happy unisex kiddo going modeling the prescribed action at every step. We see, for example, the smiling little person leaning on the shower wall, one leg lifted up and over the opposing thigh.

An encapsulation of the chart’s byproducts

· Independence – The ease of these step-by-step instructions builds quick understanding in a child with ASD, knowing now that daily showering is a necessary task that can be completed without parental assistance.

· Confidence – Parents may relax a bit; the child is safely and completely achieving self care.

· Enjoyment – The child will find good fun in learning a daily ritual that perhaps heretofore had been difficult and time-consuming.

· Familial Peace of Mind: Parents may take heart in the knowledge that with this daily assignment now being managed by the child, even as other skills, other responsibilities, other goals seem not just possible, but likely.

Help for children with autism, of course, but for all children in fact

Such charts as these, designed by parents for parents, focus on helping children learn, for themselves, by themselves. While charts and schedules have long been an integral part of raising children with autism, the same teaching and learning methodology applies to all young people, visual learners most especially.

The Hughes Brothers find it troubling, however, that the details of manufacture, the mechanical, logistical failings of some products prevent the flowering of some good pedagogical ideas. Sadly, we’ve seen some well-intentioned products go astray. An extended example follows.

Autism Product Review Visual Morning Routine Chart

A companion to the showering chart just reviewed, this products makes full, permitted use of the picture communication symbol images developed by Mayer-Johnson (whose value has been discussed in another Hughes Brothers review). As we reported there, the Mayer-Johnson symbols are the most common visual symbols used in the teaching and development of children with learning disabilities, largely because of the ease of the symbols’ understanding and implementation. The theoretical basis of the Visual Morning Routine Chart could not be stronger.


This chart has been widely panned by parents who found the product, in many instances, dysfunctional. Their came complaints of its size, too small for easy following. Of its difficulty of placement; that is, the chart doesn’t really hang, it doesn’t really sit. Of its problematical management of cards. Of insufficient storage for the cards.

Minor imperfections perhaps, but the functional gripes proved in many cases sufficient to looking past the good, good message of the cards, their wonderful symbolism.

Too bad.

MORE INFO: HOM ABA/OT Approved Step-By-Step 100% Sealed and Laminated Shower Chart for Kids. Ideal for Children with Autism or Special Needs. Helps with Teaching Self Care. PECS Charts, Visual Schedules, Aids

The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents) by Elizabeth Verdick and Elizabeth Reeve M.D.

Now five years from its publication, the Survival Guide remains one of a kind; that is, a book meant to be read, in the company of a parent, by a child with ASD. Kid-friendly and then some, no-nonsense, straight-ahead, this book has become a true and comprehensive resource for children trying to understand their situation. Even more, the guide brings along tools to help these kids cope with the difficulties of their daily lives.

Of course, the book underscores the differences, some significant, among children with ASD: some academically gifted, some struggling with life in the classroom; some introverted, some trying so very hard to be social and socially appropriate; some with limited interests, some fixated on a particular object or activity; some dealing with repeated motor movements (“stims” discussed in a Hughes Brothers review on chewing products). The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders addresses all of these variables, helping children know themselves better, accept themselves more fully.

The book begins with the fundamental, the overwhelming questions of a child: “What is happening to me?”, “What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?” “Is there something wrong with me?” “How come only I feel and behave this way?” Again, the authors know that kids can handle the truth, and so they deliver the answers. And then they move on to what might done in the face of those answers.

Ms. Verdick and Doctor Reeve do a magnificent job of simplifying, making available to a child the basics of the human body, the human brain. With this semi-clinical understanding in place, the authors move on to suggestions for managing symptoms while guiding the child through the daily importance of diet, exercise, hygiene, fun and relaxation, sleep, and even toileting. Child readers, and their parents, will find here means of handling their sometimes overpowering emotions and their consequent behaviors. Stories from other children who have confronted the same difficulties bring the book’s necessary abstractions into sharp, knowable focus.

The book’s key features

· Brilliantly colored text

· Cartoon drawings

· Well organized

· Fact boxes

· Checklists for daily activities

· References to other resources

· Glossary

The book’s strongest points

· Eminently readable

· At last, a voice – a knowing and sympathetic voice – for children with autism

· A fine balance between data-laden academic books and overly simplistic books for children only

· A tone neither condescending or overly lofty

· Definitely of more value higher-functioning children with ASD

· A frank and open look at ASD, with no social, no physical manifestation of the disorder off limits

· Real problems with real solutions from and for real kids

· An emphasis on every child’s unique, priceless gifts

No book is perfect. And so.

Boys are diagnosed with autism five times more frequently than girls, and the book chooses its examples, its suggestions toward that fact. The Hughes Brothers, however, have encountered a strong wish from parents of little girls with autism for more inclusion of their needs, of potential responses to ASD that are specifically theirs.

Some parents have said that the book focuses heavily on dealing with situations at school, thereby precluding families who home-school their children. In this same vein, the book does lean toward children who seek sensory stimulation. Little is made for children who avoid sensation at all costs. Some parents worried that guide perhaps gives too much weight to medication.

Still, a book for everyone. Really, everyone.

Obviously directed at families with children on the spectrum, the guide nonetheless serves the greater community, most especially as diagnoses of ASD continue to increase. The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders will help teachers, school administrators, counselors, parents of children who other children with ASD, indeed anyone who knows a family confronting the struggles of ASD.

MORE INFO: The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents)

Weighted Blankets

Please be advised, dear readers, the thoughts below apply to all weighted blankets. We turn to specific brands in other entries on this site.

Weighted blankets weigh in at a hefty five pounds on the light side and a whopping thirty pounds on the heavy. No comparison here between one of these behemoths and that especially heavy quilt Great Aunt Susie Hughes gave us for Christmas back in 1962.

The principal benefit from these heavy blankets arises in their promotion of the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that has much to say about your sleep cycle. We’ve also seen some claims that weighted blankets call forth other hormones capable of calming your nerves.

At the outset, you should know that these blankets are far from inexpensive, with most falling into a price range of one hundred to three hundred dollars. At those prices, expect a bunch of options in weights and materials.

The theory of weighted sleep
With a weighted blanket, your child will feel more grounded; that is, the blanket presses the child farther into the sleep surface, adding nicely to a feeling of wrapped-around security. From a more clinical standpoint, the grounding effect reduces the production of cortisol. And that’s good, very good, because cortisol — a steroid hormone made in the adrenal glands — is dumped into the blood to control mood, motivation, and fear. Cortisol triggers the body’s flight-or-fight instincts in a stressful situation. Not exactly conducive to sleep, this instinct. Essentially, cortisol production at bedtime becomes counter-productive, working against the production of melatonin, definitely not a happy effect on time required to go to sleep or to stay asleep thereafter.

Children with autism may often produce minimal amounts of meltatonin. (In this regard, you’ll read throughout the pages of our Hughes website multiple reviews of products intended to bring melatonin to the relief of your child’s sleep difficulties.) In the reduction of cortisol, in the increase of melatonin, weighted blankets earn their keep.

If the grounding sensation created by the blankets also triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine — hormones that help us to relax, to feel calm and content — then your child will enjoy a double dose of goodness. And in the best news of all, weighted blankets may induce the production of oxytocin, that wonderful hormone associated with a long, warm, loving hug.

The practicalities of weighted blankets
You should make a special effort to tailor any weighted blanket to your child, weight being the principal consideration, of course. Most clinicians agree that a child will find maximum comfort under a blanket weighing about ten percent that of their own total body weight.

Be particularly careful about allowing kiddos under the age of eight to use a weighted blanket. In fact, youngsters in this age group should sleep so grounded only after the blanket has been prescribed by a physician or a licensed therapist.

As a parent, you should also be certain that the child doesn’t suffer from claustrophobia or other such fears of being enclosed or trapped: the extra weight of the blanket might very well cause the phobia to erupt.

On a much more positive note, you may choose from a broad range of blanket weights. Some blankets may be folded to distribute more or less weight, as the child wants or needs. Weighted blankets come in sizes that match the dimensions of common mattresses: twin through king. The blankets will be filled with plastic or glass beads to ensure proper distribution of weight, along with polyester pill to add soft comfort. You may choose the cover as you would any other blanket, finding the material best suited to your child, from natural fibers to synthetic fabrics to blends incorporating both. Expect to pay more for wool or cotton, with their greater breathability.

Perception Triumph 13.0 Kayak Review

Good kayaks cost money. The Perception Triumph is a good kayak.

Best deal the Hughes Brothers have found yet brings this boat in at about $550, this hit for a boat lacking bells and yakking whistles of any sort. If fundamentally good throughout, stem to stern, is good enough for you, then let’s talk further about the Triump 13,0.

Perception Triumph 13.0 Kayak Features

Perhaps the shortest list of kayak features the Hughes Brothers have ever written.

Here we go.

· Comfort seating system

· Molded-in foot wells

· Bow and center hatches

There we go.

Product Dimensions: 161 x 29.5 x 15.8 inches ; 58 pounds

Perception Triumph 13.0 Kayak Design

Still, as we say, fundamentally sound in both construction and design.

Perception Triumph 13.0 Kayak Review by Hughesreviews.com
Perception Triumph 13.0 Kayak Review by Hughesreviews.com

Right from the start of your consideration of the Triumph, you can forget the traditional, perhaps clichéd, (If we might borrow the manufacturer’s name for a moment) perception that in no way might a sit-on-top kayak ever be considered high-performance – that elusive combination of speed, stability, and tracking, for which heretofore at least one of these three virtues must be compromised in a sit-on-top boat.

The hull design begins the performance.

Borrowed from touring boats, the Triumph’s hull.

A needful aside on the principle characteristics of a touring kayak.

The touring boats distinguish themselves as yaks more suited to intermediate or advanced paddlers, ready to boat off into big lakes, bays, rivers moving at a swift clip and, to a limited extend, the ocean itself. Unless you’re at least an intermediate paddler with considerable fast-stream experience or a natural athlete with strength and splendid hand-eye coordination – as two or three of the Hughes Brothers used to be – the Triumph is probably not the boat for you.

If, however, you’ve paid some kayaking dues, we give you simplicity, its perfect self.

The brevity of the features list above should in no way diminish the Triumph’s value, your understanding of its worth. Here we go again. This time we’re talking the advantages the boat will bring along, its benefits to experienced yakkers such as you.

· A smooth, smooth glide

· Easy paddling

· Daylong comfort, thanks to Perception’s Comfort Seat System, about which we have heard but one complaint accompanied by an immediate rectification: bared-boned John Howard Hughes found the seat turning hard and harder still at mid-afternoon. A cushion, JHH. A cushion of your own devising. As we say, simplicity itself.

Perception Triumph 13.0 Kayak Additional Features

Okay, hold it right there. We’ve found some more features.

Here we go.

· A molded-in kid’s seat

· Foot braces

· Soft-touch handles that make toting the sixty pounds of the Triumph’s heft not bad, not bad at all

· Good gosh, a cup holder

· More than adequate storage in a stern well, large but dampish, on a bad day deluged

· Lastly, a drain plug – not a bad place to stop in a splendid boat made to do simple things oh, so especially well

Your friend, the aftermarket

Given the skill levels recommended for the Triumph, the tracking will please, the turns will come true and good.


But, but.

Perception Triumph 13.0 Kayak Review and Rating

Your Triumph will arrive rudder-ready. That is, with the necessary tubing. You will need to locate mounting hardware, cables, pedals, and the rudder itself.

Metal deck loops and the Triumph’s bungee system will facilitate your addition of accessories. Fisherfolk, you will find no rod holders hereabouts.

The brand. The brand. The brand.

Never lose sight of the boat’s manufacturer: venerable, venerable Perception For over 40 years now, Perception has built more boats – the Triumph and her sisters notwithstanding – introducing people to the joys of kayaking on a scale, at very least equal, to any other manufacturer.

Perception pioneered the plastic kayak. And again, in that simplicity, there comes the happiest, the most carefree days of a true kayaker’s life.

Paddle on, Perception pilgrim.

Click here for Amazon Purchase info: Perception Kayak Triumph 13

Aire Lynx Inflatable Kayak Review

Kayaking in Kansas: since the good old days.

The Hughes Brothers admit that a review from the heartland of a boat able to handle Class 4/5 rapids does not immediately convey any stream-specific cachet. Yes, Kansas is often flat and, yes our rivers would in some cases be considered creeks in other states. That said, we remind you that the Kansas Canoe and Kayak Association celebrates its forty-third anniversary in April, 2018.

And so in a look at a boat about twelve years old, our friends in the Kansas paddling community know plenty about the Aire Lynx.

Aire Lynx Inflatable Kayak Features

First, the manufacturer’s notion of principal features of the Lynk IK.

· Aircell System 2-layer construction, 24 ounce/1100 denier outer PVC tubes, 27 ounce/1100 denier outer PVC floor, 14 mm inner urethane bladders with double-zipper access, welded seams

· Continuous curve rocker, 3 air chambers w/ Leafield B7 valves

· Adjustable Cheetah seat w/ storage pocket, adjustable bow/stern float bags

· Two sets of drain holes, twelve sets of cargo loops, bow/stern carry handles

Aire Lynx Inflatable Kayak.The reasons for a ducky. And what the hell is a ducky anyway?

Here be duckies : inflatable yaks of one or two seats, designed for whitewater, able to be deflated and reduced to fitting in a travel bag, perfect for any adventure anywhere.


Back to the Lynx.

Aire Lynx Inflatable Kayak Review by Hughesreviews.com
Aire Lynx Inflatable Kayak Review by Hughesreviews.com

Much like a sit-on-top kayak, the Lynx lifts its paddlers up and out from water-level, leading to much more maneuverability, much straighter tracking, more stability on the drops of a Class V. That on-high positioning, of course, leads to easy escape in the event of a roll in rough water; the momentarily unfortunate event involves nothing more than a drop from the Lynx, and off you go, standing up in shallow water, swimming safely to shore in bit deeper water. This safe, safe rough-water performance becomes even better, more effective with your purchase of after-market thigh braces and foot pegs.

Why this particular ducky?

The Lynx is durable, and durable some more, able to take hard hits season after season. And, should the unthinkable happen – a rock too sharp, too inevitable – a comprehensive, a complete, and very generous warranty waits to serve the unlucky Lynx owner. Here ‘tis: ten-year no-fault manufacturer warranty with a repair kit shipped with the boat, ready to make on-river fixes before heading home to fill out the warranty papers.

Track. Track. And track some more.

The Hughes Bros always, always stand for careful scouting of the big rivers, the especially fast runs well, well beforehand. Most especially in a fast inflatable such as the Lynx.


Watch the river. Pick your lines. And then take full confidence in your boat. Please, always have secondary lines in mind so that you can find a fast and easy way out of the boil and the froth. Once underway, trust your instincts. Immediately. Completely. And bail onto the safer route through it all. No one must ever, ever use the word “chicken” in the context of fast, fast water. Once underway, the Lynx takes on the big rivers and its holes. It turns just right now, just right where you want it to go. Just waiting to deliver you to the secondary line, all your gear tight and dry, an extra paddle waiting to weigh in should the need arise.

Aire Lynx Inflatable Kayak Review and Rating

Some bitsy concerns. Just some real small concerns.

A few owners have asked for a relief valve on the Lynx’s main tubes. They worried too about the boat’s response to extremes of temperature. Blowing large to Independence Day heat. Deflation in the sudden entry of the Lynx into very cold water.

Buy with confidence. Here’s a boat for the next umpteen years of your yakking life.

We mean it, we Hughes Brothers. In the general context of the Lynx, please consult our blog article on the overall rationale for a ducky.

Click here for Amazon Purchase info: AIRE Lynx II Tandem Inflatable Kayak