This 'Hugging Machine' Aims to Help People on the Autism Spectrum With Sensory Issues

A Denmark-based company is bringing to market a This photo from Gloria Mundi Care shows a person lying in the OrbisBox. deep-pressure device aimed at soothing the sensory issues of those on the autism spectrum.

The so-called “hugging machine,” originally conceived by renowned autism advocate Temple Grandin, has been dubbed OrbisBox by manufacturer Gloria Mundi Care.

The device allows users to lie on their front, side or back while being squeezed by foam-covered panels inside the box. These panels gently close in on the user at adjustable pressure levels. The OrbisBox can also provide light and sound therapy via color-changing panels that make up its walls and wired-in Bose speakers.


OrbisBox’s goal is to help a person who has difficulty processing sensory information. Those on the spectrum are often either hypersensitive to sensory stimuli or experience minimal responses to the same information. When someone on the spectrum is overwhelmed by too many senses, it can sometimes result in a sensory overload meltdown. A device like this may help in these situations.

The OrbisBox is on wheels and about the height and width of a refrigerator, with a depth of about 7 feet to accommodate a person lying down. It retails commercially for about $51,400 USD but can be purchased for personal use.

Mighty contributor Lamar Hardwick, who is on the autism spectrum, said the price of the machine would deter people from using it.

“The cost alone would limit the number of autistic people who may benefit from its use because it will alienate an entire economic class from having access to it,” Hardwick said.

He also expressed concern about the efficacy of the OrbisBox in actually comforting users.

“The ability to control the machine takes away one of the most important aspects of ‘stimming,'” Hardwick said. “In theory, self-stimulation by individuals with autism works because it is self-regulating. With little to no actual control over the function of the machine, I’m concerned that the results will fall short.”

The Mighty wants to know: Would you try the OrbisBox? Explain why or why not in the comment section below.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Young boy is laying his head on mom's shoulder.

When a Man at the Waterfront Stopped Me During My Children's Meltdowns

I wish I could tell you it’s all wine and roses — that your kids are always going to be on their best behavior every time you go out and will be perfect little angels at home. But oh, would I be a liar. Meltdowns in our family can last anywhere from 20 minutes to [...]
group of friends

My Life as a Social Butterfly as a Person on the Autism Spectrum

When people hear I am on the autism spectrum, a lot of them expect me to be socially withdrawn. After they connect with me further, they tell me my social skills are amazing.  But being a social butterfly as someone on the autism spectrum isn’t nearly as easy for me as it looks. I have [...]
Sarah Bartkowski’s cat, Charlie Brown

How Cats Helped Me as a Person on the Autism Spectrum

Last October, my family had to make the heartbreaking decision to put down one of our cats. He was 15, and his health had taken a sudden and dramatic decline, but it was still extremely hard. If you’ve ever lost a pet, you know the pain. But it’s impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. This [...]
children in classroom

When My 9-Year-Old Daughter Told Her Classmates About Her Asperger's

I’m always proud of my daughter no matter what, but what words can you use when she does something you consider so brave that “proud” just doesn’t cut it? I wracked my brain and looked in a thesaurus. I considered using “magnificent,” “dignified,” “impressive,” “glorious” and even “heroic,” but nope, they didn’t come close. You [...]