The Hug Machine -The Beginning of the Weighted Blanket Revolution

hug machine
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The Hug Machine

We all know the feeling. You’re walking down the street, minding your own business, when suddenly someone comes up to you and gives you a big hug. It’s unexpected, but it feels really good.

Now imagine if that happened every day.

That’s the idea behind the Hug Machine.

The machine is designed to promote physical touch as a way of building confidence. It’s based on the premise that we all need human contact, and that getting hugged can make us feel happier and more connected to others.

What is the Hug Machine?

The Hug Machine is a deep pressure device designed to calm hypersensitive persons, particularly those with autism spectrum disorders. It was invented by livestock equipment designer Temple Grandin, who recognized the need for a therapeutic, stress-relieving device for people with difficulty with social interactions or sensory processing disorder.

The deep pressure provided by the hug machine has been found to be calming and soothing for individuals with autism, anxiety, and other sensory processing disorders. It can also be helpful for individuals who have difficulty with social touch or who simply enjoy the sensation of being hugged.

While the hug machine is not a substitute for professional therapy, it can be a helpful tool for individuals who are seeking sensory input and comfort.

Hug Machine for autism

The hug machine works by providing a deep pressure stimulation to the user in order to help them regulate their sensory processing and provide a calming effect. The deep pressure from the hug machine can help reduce arousal and anxiety, according to behavioral and physiological studies. This can help reduce the risk of violence and help build confidence by providing a safe, comfortable environment for those with autism to interact in.

The Squeeze Machine of Therafin Corporation 10
Creative Design Of Sitting Hug Machine In The Treatment Of Students With Autism – Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

The hug machine can help those with autism to develop social skills and improve their communication abilities. Therefore, the hug machine can be a great tool for those with autism to help reduce violence and build confidence.

What does the Squeeze Machine do?

The Squeeze Machine or Hug Machine consists of two hinged side-boards, each four by three feet, with thick soft padding, which form a V-shape, with a complex control box at one end and heavy-duty tubes leading to an air compressor.

The user lies or squats between the side-boards for as long or short of a period as desired. Using pressure exerted by the air compressor and controlled by the user, the side-boards apply deep pressure stimulation evenly across the lateral parts of the body, providing a calming and soothing effect.

Why did Temple Grandin invent the Hug Machine?

What motivated Temple Grandin to invent the hug machine was her realization that the deep pressure from a cattle squeeze chute had a calming effect on the cattle. During a visit to her aunt’s Arizona ranch, she noticed that some of the cattle were immediately calmed after they were placed in the chute.

1092px Cattle inspected for ticks
Copyright by wikipedia. Cattle squeeze chutes, such as the portable one pictured here, were Grandin’s inspiration for her hug machine.

She hypothesized that a similar device might help to settle her own hypersensitivity. Initially, her invention was met with disapproval from the psychologists at her college, but her science teacher encouraged her to explore the effects of her invention.

This led to her experimentation, which eventually proved the effectiveness of her hug machine in providing deep pressure stimulation as a way of calming people.

What are the symptoms of autism?

The symptoms of autism vary greatly and may include impaired social interaction, communication difficulties, restricted and repetitive behaviors, and sensory issues. Common symptoms associated with autism include difficulty with

  • communication,
  • understanding social cues and body language,
  • change, transitions,
  • initiating social interactions, eye contact,
  • resistance to physical touch,
  • heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli
  • aggression,
  • sleep disturbances,
  • aversion to certain textures.

What are the benefits of Deep Pressure Stimulation for people with autism?

Deep pressure stimulation has been found to have a calming and relaxing effect on people with autism. It can help reduce symptoms such as anxiety, tension, and hyperarousal. It can also help improve communication and social skills, as well as decrease negative behaviors such as aggression, self-injury, and repetitive behaviors.

In addition, deep pressure stimulation can help improve the ability to focus and increase relaxation, improve sleep quality and reduce stress.

Behavioral and physiological effects of deep pressure on children with autism

The behavioral and physiological effects of deep pressure on children with autism are varied and have been studied extensively.

“These preliminary findings support the hypothesis that deep pressure may have a calming effect for persons with autism, especially those with high levels of arousal or anxiety.”

McClure and Holtz-Yotz (1991) found that sensory stimulation treatment had beneficial effects for an autistic child.

Grandin (1992) found that deep pressure can reduce physiological responses such as heart rate and cortisol levels.

Overall, deep pressure appears to have a calming and therapeutic effect on children with autism, which can lead to improved behavioral and physiological outcomes.


Edelson SM, Edelson MG, Kerr DC, Grandin T. Behavioral and physiological effects of deep pressure on children with autism: a pilot study evaluating the efficacy of Grandin’s Hug Machine. Am J Occup Ther. 1999 Mar-Apr;53(2):145-52. doi: 10.5014/ajot.53.2.145. PMID: 10200837.

The Weighted Blanket Revolution

The invention of the weighted blanket is derived from the concept of deep pressure stimulation, which is also the main idea behind the hug machine.

The use of weighted blankets has been found to be safe and effective in reducing anxiety, promoting relaxation, and improving sleep quality in individuals with various conditions, including anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder, and ADHD.

The invention of the weighted blanket is a testament to the growing recognition of the importance of sensory input and the potential benefits of deep pressure stimulation. It has also opened up a new avenue for the development of innovative sensory products that can help individuals with sensory processing difficulties to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

What are the different types of deep pressure stimulation tools?

Hug Machine

The Hug Machine applies a gentle, consistent pressure that helps reduce sensory overload and can be used to relax and calm down. It is often used to help those with autism and other sensory processing disorders, as well as those with anxiety, stress and insomnia.

Some hug machines also incorporate vibration and other sensory features to further relax the user.

Weighted Blanket

A weighted blanket is an effective therapeutic tool for treating a variety of physical and mental health issues. Weighted blankets have been designed to provide a soothing and calming sensation by providing deep pressure stimulation, which is a type of therapeutic touch that helps to reduce anxiety, stress and tension.

It is believed that the deep pressure stimulation of a weighted blanket mimics the sensation of being held or hugged, and can help to reduce cortisol levels and improve sleep.

Deep pressure stimulation works by applying pressure to the body, which helps to reduce tension and increase relaxation. This pressure can be applied in a variety of ways, such as with a massage, a firm hug, or a weighted blanket.

A weighted blanket is a tool that uses weights to provide extra pressure throughout the body, which can help to reduce stress, anxiety and tension. This weighted pressure can be adjusted to the individual’s needs and comfort level.

Unlike deep pressure stimulation, which is typically applied via touch, weighted blankets provide a more sustained and consistent pressure that is designed to help provide the user with a sense of safety and security.

Pressure Dress

A Pressure Dress is a device designed to provide deep pressure stimulation to a person in order to reduce feelings of hypersensitivity or anxiety. It is typically composed of a fabric garment with pockets filled with weighted materials such as beans, rice, or sand. The weights of the pockets provide a consistent, gentle pressure to the body which has been found to have a calming effect, especially for individuals with autism or other sensory processing disorders.

The design of the Pressure Dress can vary and can include features such as adjustable straps for customizing the level of pressure, pockets that can be easily removed and replenished, and a zipper to allow for a snug fit. It is important to remember that the amount of pressure applied should be tailored to the individual and should not exceed what is comfortable. Additionally, the pressure should not be applied directly to the face or neck, as this could cause discomfort.

Weighted Vests

Weighted vests are an alternative form of deep pressure stimulation that is a popular form of therapy for individuals with autism and sensory processing disorder, among other conditions. A weighted vest is a vest that is filled with small weights and evenly distributed throughout.

The purpose of the weighted vest is to provide deep pressure stimulation to the user in a safe and non-invasive manner. The weight of the vest helps to provide a calming and soothing effect, which can help to reduce anxiety and other symptoms associated with sensory processing disorder.

The weight of the vest also helps to provide proprioceptive input, which is beneficial in helping to increase focus and attention, as well as assisting in fine and gross motor skills. Weighted vests can also help to improve body awareness, as well as providing a feeling of safety and security.


How is deep pressure stimulation used to help those with autism?

Deep pressure stimulation works by applying firm pressure to specific parts of the body, which can have a calming effect and encourage relaxation.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Identify the areas of the body where deep pressure stimulation can be applied. Common areas include the arms, legs, torso, and head.
  2. Select an appropriate tool to apply the pressure. Options include weighted blankets, weighted vests, or a device such as the Hug Machine developed by Temple Grandin.
  3. Apply the pressure in a slow and steady motion. Move the pressure back and forth over the identified area of the body, paying attention to the individual’s response.
  4. Increase or decrease the pressure as needed. Monitor the individual’s responses and adjust the pressure accordingly.
  5. Allow the individual to self-regulate the pressure. If needed, provide guidance and support to help them control the pressure as desired.


A 13-year old male diagnosed with autism was presented to an inpatient psychiatric hospital for self-stimulating behaviors. To reduce the behaviors, the treatment team developed arm splints that provided constriction and deep pressure stimulation, which successfully reduced the client’s picking. The client then sought out other sources of deep pressure stimulation. To help, the treatment team designed wraps made from panty-hoes that provided pressure to the child’s arms. This helped reduce her distress and self-stimulating behaviors.

What data has been collected about the efficacy of the Hug Machine?

Evidence has been collected through a 1995 study conducted by the Center for the Study of Autism, which involved 10 autistic children, that showed a reduction in tension and anxiety. Additionally, a small pilot study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy reported that the machine produced a significant reduction in tension, but only a small decrease in anxiety. Furthermore, a paper written by Temple Grandin was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology discussing the effects of deep pressure stimulation from the hug machine.

How does the Hug Machine help to reduce symptoms of autism?

The Hug Machine works by providing a gentle but consistent pressure to the body, which has been found to reduce tension and anxiety in autistic people. Studies have shown that deep pressure not only reduced tension, but also anxiety levels in autistic people. Temple Grandin, the inventor of the Hug Machine, has noted that she uses the device to help her own anxiety and sensory sensitivity.

What other therapies are used in conjunction with the Hug Machine?

Other therapies that are used in conjunction with the Hug Machine include: guided imagery, relaxation techniques, massage, music therapy, and mindfulness training, EMDR therapy. These therapies help individuals with autism spectrum disorders to relax and reduce their anxiety.

Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to help individuals to gain skills in communication, social interaction, and self-regulation.

Occupational therapists may use a variety of sensory-based activities such as deep pressure touch, joint compression, and brushing to further reduce anxiety and improve sensory processing.

Butterfly hug and autism

The Butterfly Hug can be adapted for use with autistic individuals in a number of ways. For example, some individuals may prefer a gentler touch, such as a light touch or a pressure massage, rather than tapping. Others may prefer to use a stuffed animal or other comforting object to mimic the hug.

Who invented the modern day hugging?

The origin of hugging is not known for certain, but it is believed to have originated from motherly love and affection. It is thought to have been used as a form of comforting in many ancient cultures, with the earliest references found in Roman writings from the early 1st century. The first use of hugging was in the Paleolithic era as a way of expressing love and caring.

In modern times, hugging has become widely accepted in many social contexts and is seen as a way of expressing love, appreciation, and affection. Self hugging is also an existing technique for individuals being alone.

Scott Campbell’s Hug Machine

Scott Campbell’s delightful children’s book, The Hug Machine, encourages children to express their feelings of love and care through hugs. Through his endearing story, Campbell encourages a warm, caring, and buoyantly affectionate approach to life, reminding us that everyone deserves a hug.

Who invented the cow hugging machine?

Temple Grandin invented the cow hugging machine, also known as the squeeze machine, in order to help her cope with her anxiety and panic attacks as a teenager. When she visited her aunt’s ranch at the age of 15, she observed cattle being handled in a squeeze chute for their vaccination. This gave her the idea to create the machine, which was inspired by the squeeze chute the cattle were being handled in.

This original hug machine has since been developed further and is now used by many people with sensory issues.

Categorized as ASD

By lezt

Lez Taylor, Founder and CEO of Corala Blanket. She tried every sleep system and trick to conquer her insomnia for good.