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Feel Good Story of the Week: Idaho Teen Builds Machine to Help Children with Autism

28th March, 2011

Editor’s Note: We have changed the title of this article to reflect our preference for ‘person-first’ language, but we cannot control the use of the word “autistic” in the body of the article below.

[Source: Idaho State Journal]
Nathan Bollar is 18 years old, a senior at Soda Springs High School, and anticipates receiving his Eagle Scout status soon as a result of a very unusual project: he built a hug machine.
Bollar works as a developmental therapist, working with autistic children at Grace Educational Opportunities, a Developmental Disabilities Agency in Soda Springs. His interest in helping autistic children and his need to fulfill an Eagle Scout project came together, and the result was a machine that produces a calming effect on those suffering from sensory disorders, which is typical in autism.
“I asked my boss what I could do to help the agency, and she suggested I build the machine,” he said.
Bollar’s boss, Developmental Specialist Lorrie’L Jensen, has two autistic children. After hearing about the machine she wanted her children to be able to try it, but she never thought they would have the opportunity. So using the design specifications from the website of Temple Grandin, noted autistic educator and author who recently spoke at Idaho State University, Bollar set about building the machine.
After several weekends of work, and a lot of help from a woodworking neighbor, Bollar succeeding in building the machine known as a squeeze machine, or a hug machine. The machine is basically a large booth with padded panels that gently move in to swaddle the torso as the patient lies inside it. The “deep touch therapy” that the machine provides results in a calming effect, relaxing the patient, and even temporarily relieving aggressive tendencies.
Read the Rest of this Article on the Idaho Journal Website

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