Tight clothing and Hug t-shirts
Whilst there are some commercial products available, bicycling trousers and Lycra sun-shirts can provide a similar squeeze to the skin. Some children prefer to wear a small sized vest (singlet) or t-shirt as this give a bit more of a squeeze and the fabric moves less on the skin.
There are a number of brushes designed to provide touch pressure. The branded version is called a Therapressure Brush. These are robust and worth the cost if you are using them at home. Surgical hand scrubbing brushes have the same bristles and are a more cost effective solution if larger numbers are needed.
There is a specific programme called the Wilbarger Protocol (also referred to as DPPT) which requires training and therapist supervision. However, some children like the feeling of the brushes. These can be used to brush the skin by either the child or an adult. The precautions above should be noted and children should always have control if the adult is doing the brushing.
The brushes are designed to be used with some downward pressure. It is recommended the brushes are only used on arms, hands and legs. If you are brushing a child, hold their limb with one hand and brush in a rhythmic manner in the direction of hair growth. Lift at the end of the limb and go back to the top each time. Stay consistent with your pressure and rhythm.
The input should help to calm the child. Not all children like them, and they should NEVER be forced onto a pupil. Always ask for permission and follow the pupil’s lead.
Requesting touch pressure
Finally, make sure you consider how the child can request touch pressure. Some children link the receipt of support strategies to their behaviour. So, they associate negative behaviours to receiving a squeeze. Or, in schools that restrain, they associate negative behaviour to getting a big hug.
Therefore, it is helpful to teach the child that they can request a ‘squeeze’ or a ‘hug’ in a proactive way. Some will be able to do this verbally. Others may need a sign or a symbol. For children that understand their arousal level is increasing, they can also be taught that touch pressure is a strategy they can use to help to calm down.
Where to Next?
Touch pressure is often used alongside heavy work you can learn more in this post – The Mystery of Heavy Work.
Kim also explores the different types of touch in Level 1 of Sensory Processing with GriffinOT. Join our community using the button below and get started, it’s free!