This week’s question comes from Liz Allen:
My 3½ year old son, Phoenix, has autism. One of the things he craves is skin-to-skin contact. However, it’s not just any skin, it’s my skin, particularly my stomach and back. He calls it “tummy” and he prefers that he’s touching me with his feet. Because he’s so young, he’s never been able to explain this to us but you can see on his face that his anxiety goes away when he is touching me. We are trying to break him of this habit because it’s become something like a drug that he craves. I know it makes him feel better but I can’t lay in bed with him all day and night and allow this.
The other day he was talking about “tummy” and we started asking him why he likes it. He says it makes him feel warm.I asked him if there is anything that feels as good as tummy does, to which he replied, “Having warm water all over him,” AKA a shower.
So I began thinking about what I could do to recreate this feeling for him. Something warm, portable, and that has a similar feeling to skin. Which brings me to my crafting question: With all the great minds and readers of Craft, maybe someone would have an idea to help my son, something I could make or have made that he could sleep with and take in the car.
In the video above, I describe how you can make a “warm pack,” or fabric pouch filled with rice. You can pop it in the microwave and it will stay warm for about half an hour, or you can insert one of those hiker’s heating packs into the inner velcro pouch to keep it warm for up to eight hours while in the car, etc. I used Ultrasuede, a very soft microfiber (not actually leather), which feels very much like soft skin. You can find it at most fabric stores in the upholstery section; look for remnants specifically (here’s a site that sells swatches). I used sew-on velcro for the closure to prevent any adhesive fumes from being released when it’s microwaved. I hope this helps, please let us know how it works for Phoenix!
If you have a question for Ask CRAFT, shoot me an email at [email protected], or drop us a note on Twitter! We’d love to answer your crafty questions on any topic: technique, projects, crafty culture, or anything else! Each week the answers are here; include your name, where you’re from, and your website or blog if you have one!