Sensory modulation is one of our brain’s functions that involves organising sensory information from different environmental input. It is part one’s ability to develop awareness of his body and understand his presence in the physical world. When a person is stimulated, the brain helps the individual focus on that particular stimulus while filtering out and modulating the rest. For a few individuals with behavioural and developmental challenges, processing sensory input can be very difficult. Because of this, they undergo bean bag therapies that help them regain self awareness and control.
Children with autism, adults with borderline personality disorders, and victims of trauma and abuse are the ones who are in need of therapy. They can be over- or under-responsive to stimuli such as touch, pain, sound, odour, movement, sight, and taste. Their central nervous system has difficulty in judging the degree, nature, or intensity of a stimulus, thus making it challenging for them to attain an optimal performance and adaptation in their daily lives. This interferes with their learning, social skills, and self-worth.
Bean bags are safe and versatile tools that are helpful in making people organise their senses and gain awareness of their bodies in their physical environment. They come in different shapes and sizes, and are filled with beans or similar materials like such as shredded foam.
The even pressure and hugging effect they have on the body makes them favourite products for deep pressure therapy in autistic children. They are usually used as chairs that provide immediate sensory feedback to the child about every subtle shift in his actions. The foam inside the bags conforms to the child’s physique and makes him mindful of every move. Once he shifts around the chair, the process of finding what is a comfortable position and what is not helps him focus on all sensory cues.
Another technique that uses smaller bean bags is called therapeutic tapping. This provides a strong and deep pressure input to different body parts. The person is tapped all over from the arms and hands, down to the legs and feet. Each area is tapped for a minute before moving to the next, and is performed regularly at specific times during the day. The tapping motions develop awareness and focus on the different body parts. This is ideal for trauma and abuse victims who have grown fearful of touch because gentle tapping makes them realise that touch can also be good and less threatening. This will then allow them to exercise control over sensational responses.