Melanie’s four-year-old son has autism. His pre-school recommended using a weighted lap cushion to help him relax (Picture: Melanie Lord)

If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety or sensory processing issues – or you know someone who has – you’ve probably heard people extolling the benefits of weighted blankets and pillows.

Then you’ve likely eagerly searched online to get your own, only to discover those special weighted products tend to be pricey.

One mum came up with a way to make use of the soothing effects of a weighted cushion without splashing a load of cash.

Melanie Lord, 30, wanted a weighted lap cushion for her four-year-old son Harry, who has autism, after his school suggested it might help to calm him.

She had a browse online but was quickly put off when the only option she could find was £36. After all, it’s a risk to drop a load of money on something if you’re not certain it will help.

So Melanie, from Suffolk, decided to make her own weighted cushion, using bean bags she managed to pick up for £4.

Melanie stitched together eight bean bags she was able to buy for £4 (Picture: Melanie Lord)

The mum-of-two sewed together the bean bags to make a cushion Harry could place on his lap whenever he’s feeling overwhelmed. It worked a treat, so Melanie is now sharing her hack in case it helps others.

Melanie, who owns a small online gift shop called Butterbean Bizarre that raises money for the National Autistic Society, told LatestDeals.co.uk: ‘My son is four years old and wonderfully autistic, which means he can become anxious and unsettled at times.

‘He often finds it hard to sit and concentrate, and his pre-school has suggested to try a weighted cushion to place on his lap at home to see if he felt more relaxed.

‘I trawled the internet looking at the cushions and they were priced between £30 and £40. I wasn’t sure if it would work so I didn’t want to spend that much on one.

‘After looking online at the designs of the lap cushions, I thought about using bean bags instead, as the pockets of the weighted cushions reminded me of a bean bag. I remembered from when I was at primary school that bean bags were always quite heavy.

The stitched-together bean bags were then placed into a pillow case (Picture: Melanie Lord)

‘I saw that Home Bargains were selling bean bags for £2 for four, and I bought two packs. You can buy these online too from eBay and Amazon.

‘I stitched eight together, and thought it was a good weight for my son, especially as he was only four. Then I placed them inside a cushion cover. It saved a huge amount compared to buying one online.’

Harry likes the feel of the cushion and finds it relaxing to run his hands over the different textures. Melanie says the bean bags had an immediately calming effect.

‘I placed it on his lap and he loved the feel of it, and also how he could feel the dried beans within the bag,’ Melanie explains. ‘He liked to run his hands over it. He liked the different textures of it so it acted like a sensory lap cushion too.

‘He was more relaxed and it helped him be able to concentrate more. It just brought a sense of calm to him.

‘If you want to make one, make sure to sew along the edges of the bean bag, (just the material part) to attach them together as opposed to trying to stitch into the filled parts of the bean bags.

‘It’s important to also mention that it’s a lap pillow, and it’s best not to be used as a duvet as it could pose risks to adults or children at night. My little boy loves his and it’s much cheaper than buying the £35 one!’

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