Your Child's Sensory Need for Pressure



Kids with autism may have other special sensory needs that other kids don't.  Some kids especially need to have pressure to calm and soothe them.  Having worked with at schools in special needs classroom, as well as in the home and community with kids with autism, I have come accross some pretty cool items that may help get your child's sensory needs met. 

Some of these toys are fun for a child of any age and some may be specific to kids with special needs.  I think that if kids are able to engage in the sensory activities they need, they will be happier, calmer, and have their own way to cope when stressed.


If you child with autism like a lot of squeezes, hugs, or pressure to calm, a pressure vest may work well.  This can be a vest that may have weights on it that can give the feeling of being squeezed or having pressure on the body.  It usually can be made tighter to give that "hugged" feeling.  It can also be good for those kids who wriggle around a lot.  Its nice if you as a parent can provide the hug, but these items can help your child be more self sufficient and learn how to calm and provide for themselves.

Also useful can be a body sock.  This looks like a small sleeping bag that your child can put his/her whole body into, and push outward to get that feeling of pressure/resistance.  I've seen this be very calming for kids, and can help to snap them out of a tantrum.

You can also work with your child on either signing "squeeze"  or "hug"  or verbally requesting for one.  If your child has in-home services, your behaviorist may be able to help you with this.  Or you can simply tell your child to request "hug" then give them the squeezes and pressure they need.  Over time, this will give your child the initiative to communicate and ask for what they need. 

Games and Activities for the Child Who Loves Pressure

You can incorporate your child's need for pressure into fun games and activities.  One I love (and that many typical children may love) is:

  • Burrito:  lay out blankets on the floor and have your child lie at one end.  You can put other soft items on top (for "beans", "rice", and "cheese").  Then roll your child up tight so he/she is wrapped up in the blanket.  Make sure their head is sticking out at the top to give room to breathe!
  • Pillow Fights:  Many kids with autism love the feeling of a pillow on their body.  This can mean a pillow fight or stacking pillows on top of them as they lie down (again, not the face!).  you can then apply some gentle pressure on the pillows to give them that squeezed feeling.

Hopefully some of this has helped you to uderstand how to help your child get their sensory needs met, and have fun in the process!