TEMPLE GRANDIN'S 'HUG
Written by Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D.
Center for the Study of Autism, Salem, Oregon
Grandin is an adult with autism
who has written two books about her life - Emergence Labeled
Autistic and her recent book, Thinking in Pictures.
In her books, she describes her severe anxiety and how her discovery
of deep pressure ultimately helped her reduce the anxiety's debilitating
During her childhood years, Temple would crave
deep pressure. She would crawl under sofa cushions or wrap herself
in blankets to provide pressure. She stated that she could not obtain
the 'right' amount of pressure from people because they either gave
her too much deep pressure or too little.
As a teenager, Temple observed cattle being branded
in a squeeze chute at a relative's farm and noticed that they immediately
calmed down after pressure was administered to them in the chute.
Temple reasoned that the deep pressure from the chute led to an
overall calming effect and thought it might be able to settle her
'over-stimulated nerves.' She then built her own device which is
referred to as the 'Hug Box,' the 'Hug Machine', the 'Squeeze Machine,'
or the 'Squeeze Box.' Temple still uses her 'Hug Box' on a regular
basis to provide her the necessary deep pressure to cope with her
The 'Hug Box' is made of two padded side-boards
which are hinged near the bottom to form a V- shape. The user lies
down or squats inside the V. By using a lever, the user engages
an air cylinder, which pushes the side-boards together. This action
provides the deep pressure stimulation evenly across the lateral
parts of the body. Some individuals prefer long squeezes while others
prefer rather short squeezes.
At the present time, several programs around the
country have utilized Temple's 'Hug Boxes' and have observed similar
changes in children and adults with autism, particularly a general
calming effect. The Center for the Study of Autism, in collaboration
with Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, conducted a controlled-placebo
study in the summer of 1995, involving 10 children with autism.
The researchers, Stephen Edelson, David Kerr,
and Meredyth Goldberg Edelson, found a reduction in tension and
anxiety based on the Conner's Parent Rating Scales checklist. In
addition, the child with the highest anxiety level, according to
the Galvanic Skin Response, a physiological measure, indicated a
general reduction in anxiety over time. Dr. Margaret Creedon at
the Easter Seals Therapeutic Day School has also conducted research
on the efficacy of Temple's 'Hug Box' and has found results consistent
with these findings.
For additional information about the 'Hug Box,'
refer to Temple Grandin's books which provide detailed descriptions.
Information on renting, leasing, or purchasing a 'Hug Box' can be
obtained from Thera/Fin Corporation at 1-800-THERAFIN (843-7234).
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