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Many children with autism, SPD, or other sensory needs crave deep pressure throughout the day. Think of these deep pressure activities as "heavy work" to provide stimulation to certain muscles. 

These 'heavy work' exercises can help provide the deep pressure input that their muscles and joints crave. Deep pressure can be very calming for children who easily become overwhelmed by sensory stimulation.   

Your child may be seeking deep pressure stimulation if they show some of the following signs:

  • Banging hands together (or other body parts)
  • Biting or chewing on clothing or objects
  • Holding objects excessively tight (e.g. pencil)
  • Throwing self on the floor
  • Excessive climbing or other weight bearing activities
  • Constantly seeking tight hugs

Help your child stay calm and relaxed with this quick list of deep pressure exercises you can do at home with your child. 



Crawling or Push-ups

Crawling on the floor or push-ups provide an easy way to put pressure on the muscles and joints. It's great exercise too!





Take a break when your child has been sitting for a while and jump on the spot. Many children also enjoy jumping on trampolines to provide a fun sensory experience. 




Couch Sandwich

Have the child lie on the couch, gently place a cushion on top of the child and apply the pressure they desire. Be careful not to cover the child's face with the cushion. 




Exercise Ball

Have the child lie on their stomach. Gently roll an exercise ball over their back.




Gentle Squeeze

Use your hands and arms to apply deep pressure to the child's shoulder/arms. 




Everyday Chores

Did you know that simple everyday chores and activities can help your child with deep pressure? Next time you're at the grocery store, let your child carry the groceries.

These activities are also great 'heavy work' ideas:

  • Digging in the garden
  • Raking leaves
  • Pushing a weighted laundry basket
  • Pushing a grocery cart 


Keep this post as a reference for your child's deep pressure needs. These exercises will help your child develop a better awareness of their body. Make sure to discuss deep pressure with your OT!

Do you do any deep pressure exercises? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

Written by Katherine Sturdy — November 23, 2016

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