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Weighted Lap Buddies - More Than a Sensory Fix!

Beccie Hawes shares the amazing impact she observed for one pupil after meeting their new friend Spike - his new weighted lap buddy!

Posted on Monday 05th September 2022

We’ve all got them in our classrooms – the wigglers, the fidgets, the twitchers and jiggers. These are the pupils who really need to move in order to focus or to know where their body is in relation to the space that they are in. The movement acts as an essential ‘balancer’ so that the pupil’s arousal level is just right for them to focus on learning. No movement – no focus, no focus – no learning. It really is a delicate balancing act.

So what can help pupils to achieve that balance?

In the schools that I have the pleasure and privilege of supporting we have had enormous success with weighted lap buddies.

Weighted Lap Buddies

Prior to these, we offered weighted blankets and lap pads – these still have their place in our armoury of resources but don’t always appeal to our pupils. We have found that pupils see lap buddies as supportive in helping them to self-regulate their sensory needs but we have also seen that the pupils have benefited in so many more ways than just this.

Introducing a new friend – a weighted lap buddy

The perfect example of this sensory and bonus incidental support relates to a pupil who we’ll call Jake – a brilliant Year Four pupil but one of our biggest fidgets. His fidgeting was so significant that the other pupils, his teacher and his mum complained about it constantly. Jake also told us that he found his ‘leg dancing’ to be ‘exhausting’. Jake was prone to upset outbursts when he felt ‘full’ and would often fiddle with resources on the table. He also found it hard to sustain a task to completion and would often get up for a wonder around the room at all the wrong times.

Cue the offer of a ‘pet dog’ to help him manage his needs.

Jake snapped up the offer and instantly fell in love with his lap buddy who now goes everywhere with him.

So how did the weighted lap buddy help?

The first noticeable difference was Jake’s willingness to use the dog in the classroom as opposed to a weighted blanket. He proudly sat with his new found friend on his lap and gave him a name: ‘Spike’. With Spike sat proudly on Jake’s lap not only did the fidgeting stop but Jake also met many of his other sensory needs independently in a low level and less noticeable fashion as he could stroke the dog and twist his ears between his fingers. The feedback he received from this made Jake more inclined to focus and participate. Suddenly Jake’s work was finished every time for which he earned rewards. This led to raised self-esteem – a sense of ‘I can’. Planned ‘dog walks’ were built into lessons so that Jake could move at the right times which reduced reminders from his teacher.

And the best bit?

We had a happier, smiling Jake because his basic needs were being met with Jake in control of how it worked for him. We now frequently hear him say: ‘I need to do my work so that I don’t disturb Spike!’

Spike is more than a sensory fix – he’s become a vital learning buddy.


A huge thank you to Beccie Hawes for writing this blog for us.

About Beccie Hawes

Beccie has worked in all aspects of Special Educational Needs including mainstream, additionally resourced provision and specialist settings. She has extensive experience as a SENCo, Inclusion Manager, Lead Local Authority SEND Advisory Teacher and has set up and led an inclusion advisory service.

Beccie is currently proud to be the Head of Service with Cadmus Inclusive, part of Cadmus Services, which is based in Walsall. This service has a national reach and actively supports schools with all aspects of providing a high quality education for vulnerable learners. Beccie is the author of ‘The Complete Dyslexia Toolkit’ and co-author of ‘Getting it Right for SEND’ and ‘How to Create the Perfect Partnership with Parents’. Beccie also writes the national Ebriefing: SEND Bitesize. She has developed a number of educational resources to support learners which schools across the UK have purchased and use.  Beccie remains very ‘hands on’ in the classroom and is passionate about being at the chalk face to support teachers and children to think differently for a brighter tomorrow. She is also the mum to four boys and a dog.

Beccie Hawes - SEND expert