originally written and published for Harkla
If you read our articles on weighted blankets or deep touch pressure, you learned about the benefits of weighted materials for sensory regulation. Much like a weighted blanket, but on a smaller scale, a weighted lap pad, or weighted lap pillow, is a sensory tool that offers proprioceptive or deep touch pressure to a person’s legs as it rests on his lap when in a seated position. Weighted lap pads are particularly helpful for people with sensory processing disorder, attentional difficulties, and autism because proprioceptive input has a calming, grounding effect.
WEIGHTED LAP PADS PROVIDE DEEP TOUCH PRESSURE
Deep pressure or deep touch pressure therapy (DTP) is firm tactile sensory input that provides proprioceptive input to the whole body. This can consist of firm hugs, firm stroking, cuddling, hugging, squeezing, compression, or swaddling. When administered to the whole body, deep touch pressure therapy (DTP) has a calming, organizing effect on children and adults alike.
Weighted lap pads offer targeted DTP input while seated, which can increase time on-task, increase time seated, and improve overall seated positioning. When we talk about sensory diet activities and sensory “snacks” or tools, a weighted lap pad is a discreet and functional sensory accommodation for school that helps kids regulate.
WHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM WEIGHTED LAP PADS?
Children and adults alike are finding weighted lap pads to be helpful in helping them self-regulate. People who benefit from DTP include those diagnosed with:
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD),
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD),
Psychiatric disorders (mood disorder, depression, anxiety, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder),
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
Weighted lap pads are often used in classrooms to provide some sensory input and help students stay seated. Preschool teachers find lap pads most helpful in keeping little bodies in seated positions on the carpet for circle time! Adults who use full-sized weighted blankets at home may find that weighted lap pads are more discreet and portable for the workplace.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A WEIGHTED LAP PAD
There are many styles, fabrics, and manufacturers of weighted lap pads and the construction and contents vary as well. Some parents make DIY weighted lap pads using rice, beans, glass beads, or sand. Retail-produced lap pads are often more sophisticated with fabric channels that evenly distribute the weights across the entire lap pad.
When evaluating what weighted lap pad will best meet your needs, consider:
Material - What is the fabric/texture? What will be calming or soothing to your child but not overly distracting? You’ll want to make sure that the fabric that covers your weighted lap pad is preferred, not aversive. Don’t choose harsh denim if your child cringes at the thought of wearing jeans!
How is the outer layer of the lap pad constructed? Velcro, zipper, button, or sewn closures? This may affect washability and durability.
Washability - Is the cover machine washable? Wipeable? Waterproof? If your child is prone to spilling or drooling, you’ll want to wash a lap pad often so make sure you have options that will take care of clean up. You may need a waterproof layer under the cover material if the inside is not washable.
How is the weight distributed? Is the interior constructed in channels or boxes to contain the weight evenly? This is important to consider as the weights will inevitably shift with use and make your lap pad lopsided and awkward!
What is the lap pad weighted with? This may affect washability as well.
How much weight does your child need?
At Harkla, we use poly plastic pellets in our weighted lap pads that are completely washable and secured in a box-construction and covered in a super-soft minky fabric that stays soft no matter how many times you wash it! We guarantee it!
Weighted lap pads are sensory tools that promote regulation, calming, and refocusing. When used in combination with a sensory diet plan, these sensory tools are wonderful classroom additions to help children with seated posture and seated attention.