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About Us
Calming Hugs started from one mother's need to create a stylish weighted vest to better enable her autistic son to blend in with his peers. The marketplace offered weighted vests that screamed, "Look at me, I'm different!" Available options used bulky materials or silly designs that made vests look thick and unusual. Fashionable alternatives that provided the needed deep touch pressure were unavailable.

Discussing the frustration in the kitchen of a good friend's home, a stylish solution began taking shape. The little boy tried different options and provided terrific opinions to develop a quality vest that also soothed and calmed him when needed.
One of our early customers said her son told her our weighted vest felt like a big hug to him. Aahhh. What a wonderful feeling, a hug! That is how we knew, Calming Hugs, would be the perfect business name. The extreme love of a mother for her autistic son, "just to be one of the boys", is the basis for our passion. We hope you or your loved one experience the feelings of soothing, peaceful, Calming Hugs every time you use our products.

We have many people to thank in the creation of our dream. Al Perry and Jim Griffith from SCORE gave us the initial education and foundation for us to start our journey. We appreciate their encouragement and business experience. Kelsey Allen deserves recognition for taking our ideas and creating a fantastic modern logo design. We value the support and information provided to us by Karen Cook. Her knowledge, positive attitude and love of children helped us immensely. We are grateful for the partnership provided by Jeff Tasker and Shannon Brasseaux at Tasker and Peterson. Their smiles, friendly advice and on-going guidance is valued tremendously. Frank Marott and Matt Blanton at Pixels provided a unique photography experience, worked with our tight timeframes and enabled us to share our products in a fun manner. We also appreciate Julie Short, Sara Kovash, Tim Short and all the folks at WebRevelation for taking our vision and creating a unique stylish web home.

We are business partners, moms and friends and welcome you to learn a little more about each of us.
Penny Seeman

My wonderful friend, DeAnne, was in my kitchen expressing her frustration over the ugly industrial looking weighted vests her son was supposed to wear. She knew he needed the deep touch pressure, but did not want him to look so different. As we discussed the disappointment of available stylish sensory items, DeAnne and I decided we would do something about it. We worked with Dominic to get his feedback on designs that worked during his Occupational Therapy appointments while looking cool.

I love having the privilege of being part of Calming Hugs. Sewing is my passion. I enjoy taking a creative idea and manipulating material to make it functional and fun. It is exciting to insert fabrics and add special rhinestones to create a unique design that is meaningful to a little one. I have seen the joyous faces of kids who have received our Hug Vests. They tell me how awesome our product is and how much they love it. Seeing the excitement and hearing their affection makes me feel happy and proud of what I am accomplishing.

I grew up in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska as well as North Texas University. I am blessed with a fabulous husband, Jim, and two marvelous daughters, Megan and Natalie. My experience with Calming Hugs has made my entire family appreciate the special differences in children. We all are more sensitive, understanding, accepting and loving. I hope you enjoy our products as much as I enjoy making them.
Barbara Lau

Children are my passion. Each little miracle is unique, special and amazing. My first exposure to weighted products was through my work in a Special Education classroom at an elementary school. I continue to learn amazing things from these extraordinary children. I have seen how a weighted vest or weighted lap pad can provide that extra sensory need to enable a child to regroup and gain internal control. I witnessed how the deep touch pressure can make a significant impact on behavior change. I am proud to be part of Calming Hugs. Our weighted products are functional yet stylish so that when kids use them, no one has to know it provides a dual purpose. A kid can just have fun.

I attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Human Resources. My days at this amazing campus were filled with an appreciation of the UW Marching Band, Memorial Union Terrace studying and great times as a House Fellow. My Wisconsin dairy farm childhood and amazing parents, Leo and Kathy Hanke, gave me the background for hard work, dedication to family, unconditional support and a love of the Green Bay Packers. My second parents, Charles and Donna Lau, are great role models providing a foundation of love, humility and respectfulness. I am blessed with a fantastic husband, David, and am appreciative of his helpful suggestions, extreme patience and unwavering support. My amazing three boys, Jason, Colin and Kevin, each bring joy, laughter and happiness to my heart every day. My sister, Susan, and brothers Michael and Daniel have been and continue to be a source of inspiration, collaboration, and just lots of fun. My second sisters, Debbie and Nikki are fabulous moms who serve as great sounding boards. Many of my aunts, uncles and cousins have been a consistent source of support and encouragement throughout my life. I have many fabulous friends, but some of them have been with me through life's great and difficult times. Susan George, Diane Galvan, June McMahon, Lisa Ann Krutzik, Sharon Steffen, and Mary Daun provide unending strength, enjoyment and remarkable friendships. DeAnne and Penny are amazingly talented women, business partners and wonderful friends. I am immensely blessed by the support of my family and friends but God deserves the glory for creating the path allowing me to pursue this dream.

Calming Hugs has made a difference in my life. I truly hope you will find that our Hug products make a difference in yours.
DeAnne Pistocchi

My son Dominic is on the "Spectrum". He is diagnosed with high functioning autism, sensory integration and petite mal seizures. There are other diagnoses but I'm sure you get the picture. As any parent of a special child knows, the road has been long and challenging. And the path changes every day. But what I'd like to share with you is some of the best advice I ever received. Dr. Monica Chacon was the first neurologist that believed me when I knew something was different with Dominic. I had begun to drive myself crazy by reading everything I could get a hold of from books to the internet which always would lead to mass confusion and tears! I remembering sitting in her office one day insisting on knowing all his diagnoses and how to treat them .She said to me, "Let's just treat Dominic for Dominic and we'll get through this." It was like a light bulb clicked on inside my head. I couldn't sit there and put Dominic in any one category. He was just Dominic. It was the moment that I knew everything was going to be okay. So Dr. Chacon, thank you!

These are a few mottos that I live by: Create Your Own Style, Make Your Own Rules, and Write Your Own Story. And that's how Calming Hugs was developed. When Dominic needed a weighted vest for his sensory integration issues, I couldn't find anything on the market that he wouldn't "stand out" in. That's when my first two mottos came in to play. Why didn't they look "cool"? Why did they have to make him look "different"? So I created a stylish weighted vest that was also functional with the help of one of my best friends, Penny Seeman. It has been a challenge and a lot of sweat and tears. But I think you and your child will love the results! It's something I can definitely say that I'm proud of and it's become not only my passion but my life Story!!!

Thank you to Penny Seeman and Barbara Lau for your constant support. You are not only my business partners but true friends. Thank you for believing in me and my ideas! Barbara thanks for always trying to keep me on task! And Penny, thanks for taking what I design and creating something concrete! I also need to thank you for always keeping me organized. Without the two of you, there would be no Calming Hugs!

To my husband, Robert Pistocchi, we've climbed many mountains and crossed many bridges and I wouldn't change a thing. You give me more strength than you know. I realized that you have always believed in me more than I believed in myself. I hope you will continue to hold my hand and pull me a long when I doubt myself. I love you.

To my four children, as you grow, may you find your passion in life and be happy. Robert, Anthony, and Dominic, you are my three shining stars! And Isabella, you are my princess. The four of you complete my life.

Thank you to my sister, Kelsey Allen. You are a brilliant graphic designer/artist. Thank you for designing the Calming Hug logo. It makes me smile knowing I have a part of you in this endeavor!

To my father, Ralph C. Allen, I hope that you are looking down from heaven and are proud me! I miss you with all my heart and soul.

Special thanks to my friend, Beth McIlhaney, whom I refer to as "my angel." Who knows how Dominic would be today without the early intervention. Thanks for pushing Robert and I even when we were in denial. And thanks for your shoulder to cry on and the constant encouragement. I owe you a thousand hugs and kisses!!!

To Karen Cook, thank you for your support with our weighted items. Dominic couldn't have had a better Occupational Therapist! Thank you for being his "angel" the last five years. We are truly lucky to have you in our lives.

And at last, thank you to all the beautiful and special children that use our products. You truly inspire me and your smiles make it all worthwhile!
Dominic's Story

Dominic Pistocchi is just like any other eight year old boy. He loves his Nintendo DS and Wii video games. When he isn't playing those he loves reading I Spy books. He is somewhat independent and quiet except for when it comes to discussing Pokemon. He absolutely loves to swim and will spend hours bobbing up and down in the pool. He is currently trying to master gymnastics and hopes to make the Boys Team next year. He loves hanging out with his two older brothers, Robert and Anthony. And has a very special bond with his little sister, Isabella. Sometimes Dominic still has emotional breakdowns but with a little help from his weighted vest or snake, he bounces back within minutes. He says it makes him feel like they give him "power". In fact, he knows now to ask for them when he feels like he needs them. Now that is progress! Dominic has a sweet demeanor and when he does try to make eye contact with you, he has a sideways smirk and dimples that will just melt you in to pieces.
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