News and Stories from the Texas Medical Community


Squeezing A Medical Deduction For Autism

By on April 14, 2012 in Experts, National Health News with 0 Comments

The Tharafin Corporation Squeeze machine invented by Temple Grandin, Ph.D.. Photo: Therafin Corp

by Yolanda R-L Baker – Exclusive to Health News Texas
author of  “B.I.T.E. Your Bills: A Four Point Plan to Cut Your Medical Expenses

Studies have shown that Autism and autism-spectrum disorders have profound effects upon both social interactions and sensitivity to sensory stimulation in persons that often make it uncomfortable or impractical for them to turn to other human beings for comfort.

In 1965 noted Doctor of Animal Science Temple Grandin, Ph.D., a person with high-functioning autism, solved this by designing the squeeze or hug machine so both she and others could turn to it for sensory relief.

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., inventor of the “squeeze machine”. Photo: Steve Jurvetson/Wikipedia

In the HBO made for TV movie about Grandin there was a scene during her college years where she creates “the squeeze machine”. For most people, willingly entering a wooden contraption that squeezes your body while on hands and knees does not sound soothing. But for those with autism and similar conditions, this machine is a great help.

A squeeze machine, also known as a hug box or hug machine, is a deep-pressure device designed to calm hyper-sensitive persons, usually individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

According to Therafin Corporation (the manufacturer of the squeeze machine), the device helps individuals with pressure and sensory issues. The waist high machine allows the user to set the pressure and adjust the head and hand positions via an air compressor.

As families and clinics continue to tightening their budgets, the machine’s cost may deprive many autism suffers from treatment. However, if the machine were to be considered a tax deduction that could help defer the cost of the machine.

Is the squeeze machine a medical expense tax deduction?

According to I.R.S. Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, a medical expense is:

  • The costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease.
  • The costs for treatment affecting any part or function of the body.
  • Payments for legal medical services, rendered by physicians and other medical practitioners.
  • NOT merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation.

Simply “craving” deep pressure is not enough for this machine to be tax deductible. A prescription from a physician is required stating that the individual has a diagnosed medical condition that would be alleviated, cured, mitigated, treated or prevented by using the device. Supporting paperwork includes assessments from therapists and other medical professionals.

The tax deduction is valid only if a taxpayer can reach his or hers deductible amount, meeting the 7.5% income threshold for Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

An example of the AGI threshold:

  • Your AGI (after income and certain deductions) is $100,000.
  • Your threshold is 7.5% of $100,000, or $7,500.
  • Your total medical expenses for the tax year are $9,000.
  • $1,500 ($9,000 – $7,500 = $1,500) is the allowable tax-deductible amount.

Grandin and her “squeeze machine” have been featured on major media programs, such as Lisa Davis’s It’s Your Health, ABC’s Primetime Live, theToday Show, and Larry King Live, the NPR show, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and written up in TimePeople MagazineDiscoverForbes and The New York Times.[

If you or a family member suffers from autism, and use the Therafin Squeeze Machine, check with you tax preparation professional to see if you might qualify for a medical tax deduction.

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