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5 Ways a Weighted Lap Pad Can Help Your Child (or You!)

Donna Chambers

For some people with sensory processing disorder, autism or other conditions, touch can be overwhelming and even painful. This is known as tactile oversensitivity or tactile defensiveness. Research has shown that weighted blankets and weighted lap pads can help people with sensory processing challenges experience all the comforts of touch without feeling overloaded. Here are five ways a weighted lap pad may help you or your child.

Weighted Lap Pads Provide Deep Touch Pressure

As Emily Kuehn at Harvard University points out, our sense of touch is a powerful part of our central nervous system. “Using our sense of touch is a crucial way that we interact with our world, comprising many sensations, including pain, temperature, itch, vibration, and pressure.”

For individuals with sensory processing disorder, autism and related conditions, touch from another person isn’t always a welcome sensation. Some people with sensory processing disorders are hypersensitive, which means they can easily become overstimulated by touch. Simply put, they feel touch more intensely than most people. Other people are hyposensitive, and they feel touch less intensely. Children and adults who are hyposensitive may instinctively seek out touch and even firm pressure.

Research has shown that touch and massage therapy can help individuals with tactile defensiveness experience the benefits of touch without becoming overstimulated. Kuehn also states: “Touch therapy has been noted to have immediate and long-term effects on the body’s biochemistry, including decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increased levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which play roles in mood regulation, movement, impulse control, and more.”

Deep pressure touch therapy involves the application of firm but gentle squeezing, hugging or holding throughout the body. With a weighted lap pad, you can bring this therapy tool home and use it whenever you or your child would like to experience the benefits of deep touch therapy.      

Ease Tactile Defensiveness On the Go

hands clasped together on top of a knitted blanket.

Weighted blankets are a favorite therapy tool for professionals who treat autism and sensory processing disorders. According to Dr. Alisha Griffith, an autism expert, certified life coach and herself the parent of an autistic child, “As a professional in the field of autism, weighted blankets and lap blankets are often recommended to children and adults to sleep and sit for longer periods of time. Weighted blankets offer support in self-regulation, added deep pressure and sensory-integration regulation.”

If you currently use a weighted blanket, or you have one for your child, you may have wished for a similar product that’s easier to take on trips in the car, or ideal for times when your child is sitting or performing a task. According to Dr. Griffith, her son liked to use a weighted blanket for sleep and a weighted lap pad for homework.

At SensaCalm, our standard weighted lap pad is two pounds, which is much lighter than our typical weighted blanket. Children and adults can drape the weighted lap pad over their legs while sitting or working. This frees up their hands for writing, studying, doing crafts or other tasks. We can also create a custom weighted lap pad that is a heavier weight. Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your needs.    

Calm Anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety and related disorders affect about 40 million people in the United States — a figure that accounts for 18 percent of the population. Anxiety is also a growing problem for kids and teens. A survey conducted by the American College Health Association found that 62 percent of undergraduate students in 2016 reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety.” In 2011, the number was just 50 percent.

Research has revealed that hugging, cuddling and similar forms of deep pressure cause the brain to release oxytocin — the happiness hormone. Studies have shown a link between increased oxytocin and a reduction in anxiety in people with anxiety disorders. It’s usually not practical to hug or cuddle all the time, which is where a weighted lap pad may help. A weighted blanket or weighted lap pad that mimics the firm but gentle pressure of a hug gives kids and adults all the benefits of hugging through the ease of a product they can drape over their legs anytime they want.    

Improve Concentration

If your child is restless during times when it’s appropriate for them to sit still, a weighted lap pad may help improve their ability to focus and concentration. Parents may find that using a weighted lap pad helps children during mealtimes, study, haircuts and social settings.

Make Travel More Enjoyable

For many families, getting kids in and out of the car can be a challenge. Whether it’s a short trip to the store or a long-distance road trip across the country to see grandma, travel with kids can be difficult. A weighted lap pad is easy to take anywhere, and it may help your child feel more grounded, calm and less anxious in the car.

If your travel plans include flying, a weighted lap pad may also help reduce anxiety and the restless feelings kids (and adults!) can get when they’re confined in small spaces for long periods of time.

In addition to lap pads, here at SensaCalm we also make weighted wraps. Choose from two weights: our three-pound weighted wrap measures 12 inches by 36 inches, and our five-pound wrap measures 18 inches by 36 inches. It’s like wearing a hug all day long!

Try a SensaCalm Weighted Lap Pad  

At SensaCalm, we have made weighted blankets, weighted lap pads and related products for a decade. Our weighted lap pads are crafted and produced right here in the U.S.A. and are available in a variety of fun prints and colors for both children and adults.

Check out our selection of weighted lap pads. We’ll customize your lap pad with your desired weight, so you can start enjoying the benefits of firm but gentle pressure right out of the box. Questions? You can reach us at 855-736-7222, or use our online contact form to get in touch.


Disclaimer: The content on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before undertaking any type of therapy or treatment.