Deep pressure can help to calm, organised and soothe. This is true for children and adults. Last year, I wrote about the benefits of a weighted blanket or vest when used as a part of a sensory diet. Have a read of these articles to give you some background information.
Weighted products can provided proprioceptive input (input to the muscles and joints which help us with our awareness of our position in space) and deep pressure. Weighted products can help a child to regulate their bodies for concentration, to feel secure, organised and calm. Whilst there is some evidence and anecdotal results for the effectiveness of weighted products, research based evidence is limiteds **. Use of weighted products should be used under the guidance and supervision of an occupational therapist as a part of a sensory diet. Please seek advice from a qualified paediatric occupational therapist.
We are all looking for economical ways to provide therapy and help families. This homemade weighted lap bag could not be easier or cheaper! It is also a fantastic NO-SEW option!
What do you need?
A large pencil case
A bag of rice - unopened or sealed in a zip lock bag.
I purchased both from a major supermarket for under $10 in total.
You are welcome!
The weight of the rice should be never more than 10% of a child's body weight. 5% of a child's body weight should be considered if the child is overweight or you are using weighted products for the first time. You may need to dispense your rice into smaller zip lock bags depending on the weight you are using.
What do you do with it?
This "weighted lap bag" may be used to help children experience "deep pressure". This heavy proprioceptive input is often needed when children need to be seated (at home or in the classroom) or when they need to be "still" or when they need their hands to concentrate. .
The "weighted lap bag" should only be used for up to 10 minutes at a time with at least a 2 hour interval between uses. If it is used for longer or too soon, a child's brain and body adapt to this weight and it does not have the same effectiveness. Some research report that weighted vests may be worn for about 30 minutes at a time, two times a day.
Alternatively, the weighted bag may be used to incorporate "heavy work" into the day. I often get kids to carry my special pencil case from their classroom to where I see them for OT.
The frequency and duration of use of weighted products should be used as a part of a sensory diet of activities in collaboration with an Occupational Therapist.
Adult supervision should always be provided when using a weighted lap bag or other weighted products. Always monitor how the child is feeling and reduce time if necessary. Always empower your child to remove the product if they are uncomfortable. Never use this weighted lap bag whilst a child is sleeping or for younger children (do not use with children 3 years and younger).
When used correctly and appropriately, a weighted lap bag can have fantastic benefits. I received this great feedback from a mother when she tried this with her daughter for the first time at home "This morning I placed a 1KG bag of rice I had on her lap and for the first time EVER she read the whole of her home reader without prompting or needing to be brought back to the book all I can say is WOW what an improvement!!" This was a young girl who I have been working with at school whilst working on a sensory diet for home and school. We had already trialled the weighted lap bag in a therapy session.
As this weighted bag is made from a "pencil case" it is not out of the ordinary to have this in the classroom. This is really helpful with children in mainstream classrooms who do not like to be seen as "different". The zipper could be tucked into the pencil case to reduce the chances of it being opened by other kids. Where weighted snakes, turtles, etc are great lap bags, the pencil case naturally fits into the school environment.
I can not emphasize enough that you should seek guidance and collaboration with an occupational therapist when using weighted products. For OTs, this is a quick, economical handy way to provide a weighted product in the home, school or therapy environments.
Have you found benefits in using weighted products?
Have you ever made a weighted lap bag?
Let me know if you try my no-sew version!
Case-Smith, J., & Arbesman, M. (2008). Evidence-based review of interventions for autism used in or of relevance to occupational therapy. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62(4), 416-429.
Olson, L. J., & Moulton, H. J. (2004). Occupational therapists' reported experiences using weighted vests with children with specific developmental disorders. Occupational Therapy International, 11(1), 52-66. doi: 10.1002/oti.197
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Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should be used for educational and entertainment purposes. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions. This blog does not replace formal therapeutic professional advice given by a health professional or medical practitioner. Reviews and endorsements of products will only be made based on my expertise and personal opinion; and deemed worthy of such endorsement. The opinions shared in sponsored content will always be my own and not that of the advertising company or brand. Content, advertising space or posts will be clearly identified if paid, affiliated or sponsored. Affiliate links may be found throughout this website in advertising. This means that if you follow through with a purchase from these links, Your Kids OT will receive a percentage of the sale. Your Kids OT undertakes to meet the requirements of the "Social Media Policy" as published by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Further information about this policy can be found here.
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