Quite often, children on the Autism spectrum find it extrremely hard to deal with stress and anxiety, resulting in tantrums, meltdowns and hyperactivity. It is also well known that hugging or snuggling with them (applying deep touch pressure) can calm them down, thus resulting in reduced tantrums and meltdowns.
To provide comfort to children in the form of non human touch pressure, there are solutions available in the market. However, these solutions are clunky, noisy, impractical and of course, expensive. Such "squeeze machines" or "hug machines" are 5 feet by 5 feet, weigh 300 lbs, have big industrial sized compressors, and cost several thousand dollars.
To come up with a practical and more affordable solution, Stuart Jackson, father of Joshua who is opn the Autism spectrum, challenged some engineering students to design a chair that was quiet, light and pleasing to the eye.
After a lot of brainstorming and ideas, the students came up with a design that involved a papasan chair and several other items. Inflatable air bags were put on top of the chair, topped by vinyl covers and a swimming noodle around the edges for cushion. The pressure in the air bags is regulated by a hand held remote that controls an air mattress pump. This entire arrangement is covered by a removable stretch fabric.
This chair, which has been checked for safety, weighs 30 to 40 lbs and costs less than a thousand dollars. There is a "lounger" as well that weighs 70 lbs for around the same price.
The students took it to an elementary school to test it and noticed that children, although a little uneasy in the beginning, started embracing and enjoying it as the chair inflated around them.
Now that they have the concept and substantial testing has been done, the students will interview parents of children on the Autism spectrum to gauge if there is indeed a bigger market for this chair. Once that's established, mass production of this chair will begin.
Let's wish these students the best and hope we get to see these chairs in the market soon!
Source: Disability Scoop
[Thanks for sharing, Bridget!]