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Why Do Weighted Vests Help Autism

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How To Use A Weighted Vest

Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing, Ataxia, Stress: Helped by the OTvest, Weighted Vest

The theory behind weighted vests is to provide the child with sustained deep pressure input to his/her muscles and joints as this type of sensory input is known to be calming and organizing. When using a weighted vest, it is important to:

Generate a weighted vest wearing schedule in consultation with your childs OT if he/she has one.

Unfortunately, the research is inconsistent in giving a clear guideline for wearing schedules, however, it is recommended to initially introduce the weighted vest during a preferred activity. If the child should wear the weighted vest for the 20-40 minute activity, be sure to remove the vest for the same time period to allow the nervous system to reset.

Some parents and educators feel that the compression vests are helpful during especially stressful times . Should your child require additional, more consistent input throughout the day, consider adding a tight-fitting undershirt .

Set up your childs weighted vest so that it is 5-10% of their body weight.

So, if your child is 40 lbs, the vest weight would be 2-4 lbs. This is important as you do not want to overstrain their bodies with more weight than what is safe. The weight should be evenly distributed as much as possible.

Identify a simple way to measure the effectiveness of the weighted vest.

Weighted Vests For Kids

Some of the benefits associated with weighted vests differ based on your own childs needs, but parents, educators, and therapists report individualized benefits that can include:

  • Increased focus/attention

  • Promote calm and organization

  • Reduced frequency of sensory overload

  • Improved body awareness

  • Increased therapeutic carryover of sensory diet activities

  • Benefits Of A Weighted Vest For Autistic Children

    Although it might not apply to all kids with autism, a weighted vest is said to provide the following benefits:

    • Create calmness
    • Provide better body awareness
    • Encourage self-regulation

    Due to the absence of scientific evidence that weighted vests work, its important to observe a child with autism while wearing oneespecially if the child has limited communication skills. If a child is uncomfortable or no improvement is seen, then its best not to use it.

    It is also worth mentioning that wearing a weighted vest may not work unless it is supported by other methods provided by an occupational therapist.

    Read Also: Broad Autistic Phenotype

    Should I Buy A Weighted Vest If My Child Is Reclined Or Prone

    If you would like to purchase a weighted vest for your child, please note that KozieClothes weighted vest is designed to hold the weights in pockets around the inside lower half of the vest. The weights are easy to remove for routine washing and drying. The weights pull the vest downward along the childs shoulders and chest, giving firm but gentle pressure that may help children experience greater body awareness.

    However, if you are interested in a weighted product for a child who must stay prone or reclined most of the time, a weighted blanket may be a better option. If your child is too young to walk, has a developmental challenge that has delayed his or her walking, or must remain in a reclined position for most of the day or night, the weights inside the weighted vest are going to be bulky and uncomfortable. Our weighted blankets come in a variety of sizes and weights, and can be placed anywhere on the body for maximum comfort. We also make weighted lap pads, which are designed to drape over the thighs.

    If you have questions about which weighted product is best for your childs needs, please dont hesitate to contact us. Our product experts can explain the various benefits of each of our products and help you select the best fit for your child.

    Examples Of When You Might Use Weighted Products

    Boy Weighted Vest for Autism and Sensory Issues
    • Weighted blankets can be used in a quiet space to help to regulate and calm down.

    • A weighted lap pad, or blanket could help with regulation during assembly.

    • A weighted animal, vest or lap pad combined with ear defenders may support a childs regulation during music if they find the noise overwhelming.

    • Weighted blankets can be used during story time at night to help with calming down before bed.

    In addition, the products can help children with poor proprioceptive awareness. This is because they provide extra sensory feedback which lets the individual know where they are. Sitting under a weighted lap pad or weighted blanket provides a physical boundary for the child to let them know where they are. For children that lean on their peers or move about on the mat, this can sometimes help them to stay in their own space.

    Finally, weighted vests in particular, can sometimes help sensory seekers. This is again because they give that extra bit on continual sensory feedback to the brain. For some individuals this can be enough to reduce their sensory seeking behaviours and help to focus their attention.

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    How Can Weighted Clothing Help My Child

    Weighted and compression vests are designed to give your child that hugged sensation, without the trapped feeling some kids with autism can experience with a person-to-person hug.

    Weighted clothing and accessories can help your child feel calm and secure, as well as manage anxiety and behavioral troubles like meltdowns and temper tantrums. Using weighted items can also improve concentration on tasks and in school.

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    Sensory Integration Therapy For Autism

    Wearing weighted vests and other weighted objects is part of a practice called sensory integration therapy. This approach aims to help children who have difficulty processing multiple sensory inputs at the same time.

    A child who is unable to process various sensory inputs properly may resort to stereotypical behaviors like repeated gestures or become clumsy, unresponsive, or overly upset.

    Some ways that sensory integration is implemented are:

    • Sensory and motor activities
    • Accommodations and adaptions
    • Sensory diet programs
    • Environment modifications
    • Education

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    Research On Autism And Dps

    As you can see from the timeline, modern autism treatment is fairly novel, therefore the research surrounding particular interventions such as deep pressure stimulation is a bit scarce in relation to the research of other treatment interventions for other conditions. Despite the lack of abundant literature, there are still data that can help us begin to close the gaps between deep pressure stimulation as a treatment intervention for autism.

    There are seven studies that hold merit in this discussion, and each will be explored and compared to draw conclusions on what is known about deep pressure stimulation interventions for autism.

    Study 1: The effects of weighted vests on the engagement of children with developmental delays and autism.

    For this experiment, three children with an autism diagnosis and around the age of four were recruited to determine if weighted vests would improve engagement. We know from above that typical symptoms expressed in children with autism include lack of social engagement and hyper-focus on particular activities or objects. With autism, education can be difficult due to the extra challenge of motivating and maintaining engagement.

    Study 2: The effects of weighted vests on appropriate in-seat behavior of elementary-age students with autism and severe to profound intellectual disabilities .

    There are a couple of issues with this study, which I must point out as someone who intends on being an objective scientist.

    What About Bed Time

    Autistic girl wears weighted vest! | Does it work for bitting!? | ASD Calming vest! | ASD non verbal

    There are anecdotal reports that weighted blankets can be helpful for sleep. However, the reports of success vary hugely. There are also a number of different Lycra sleep socks on the market. These products wrap around the mattress and in theory provide extra deep touch pressure whilst the individual sleeps. You will find advocates for all products.

    Typically it is not recommended that children sleep under weighted blankets. This is due to the risk of suffocation. Risks would be higher for children who have asthma, allergies or any condition that affects their breathing. They are definitely not recommended for individuals who cannot move out from under them independently.

    Use them before bedtime

    Weighted blankets could be used before bed time to help with lowering arousal. They are great for story time before bed. It may be that you leave them on the lower half of the childs body for an extra 10-15 minutes as they start to drift off to sleep. However, it is best to not leave all night for young children. Sometimes you can achieve a similar effect with a heavier duvet, an extra blanket or tucking the sheets quite firmly.

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    What Is It Filled With

    Commercial products are typically filled with plastic pellets. These are available for purchase if you are going to make your own blanket. They are recommended as they last well and also dry out if they get wet. Unlike rice or sand or other things products are sometimes filled with.

    Also, make sure the product has individual sections for the weight so that it is evenly distribute. This is pretty normal for modern products. But, make sure you double check as without sections all of the weight ends up on one side.

    Themes Of Research: What Can We Conclude About Weighted Blankets For Autism

    Notice any themes amongst all the studies weve presented? It appears as though inattention associated with autism is overall not improved by weighted vests. In fact, in all these studies which used weighted vests, there were no significant changes. This isnt to say that weighted vests are ineffective all around, but rather just in these circumstances. Possibilities for why this is the case are not enough weight, inattention associated with autism just not being a symptom which can be ameliorated by weighted vests, or flawed research design.

    However, as shown above, there are some examples of instances where deep pressure stimulation has been effective in attenuating symptoms caused by autism. Why is that? It appears as though there are two factors which ring true when treating autism with deep pressure stimulation: there may be a cocooning effect which when combined with pressure elicits therapeutic benefits. Case in point, Temple Grandins Hug Machine research. Pressure needs to be applied to certain areas, depending on the symptom being exhibited and the severity. For example, the case studies both showed symptom reduction when arm compression wraps were implemented.

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    Have You Tried A Pressure Vest Before

    The Pressure Vest offers an almost instant calming sensation to a child who just cannot concentrate, standstill, or complete simple tasks due to hyperactivity. It assists children diagnosed with Autism, SPD, ADHD or Neurological Disorders.

    This product can be used in the classroom or at home. The Pressure Vest can be worn inside or outside of everyday clothing.

    • You can try using this whilst shopping to help your child stay calm in busy shopping centers.
    • Use this product in the classroom, discreetly put the Pressure Vest under school uniform.
    • Try the Pressure Vest next time you’re going to a party or gathering to help your child keep calm

    Why Pressure Therapy?

    Written by Cara Batema taken from SpecialNeeds.comPressure vests provide proprioceptive feedback to a child with a sensory processing disorder. Proprioceptors are sensors that aid in a childs sensation of gravity and body movement, and proper functioning of these sensors is essential for accurate and appropriate movements. Motor control, rhythmic movement, limb position, and correcting motor errors are all basic functions with some control from proprioceptors. Weighted vests provide proprioceptive feedback and stability. By providing constant and deep pressure, these vests help increase body awareness, improve balance, and provide sensory feedback. The pressure from the vest also helps decrease the childs response to the stimulus causing frustration or anxiety, which allows the child to calm down.

    What Size Blanket Is Right For Me

    Weighted Compression Vest for Children Ages 2 to 4 by ...

    When it comes to how much your weighted blanket should weigh, there are some general guidelines. Most people recommend 10 percent of the persons body weight, but research and experience has shown that number is closer to 20 percent, says Kristi Langslet, OTR/L.

    Most blanket manufacturers also have guidelines for safe use and proper sizing of the blankets.

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    What Are Weighted Vest For Children

    A weighted vest provides deep touch pressure or proprioceptive which has a calming, organizing effect on the child and occupational therapists often recommend the wearables as part of a comprehensive sensory diet to help children with autism who have sensory processing disorder or self-regulation difficulties.

    Weighted Compression Vest Option For Children

    Children who fidget excessively, demonstrate difficulties with attention and impulsivity, or have difficulty with body awareness may benefit from a compression-style vest or garment. These products can be worn to provide additional sensory input about where ones body is in space . A wearing schedule is recommended and can vary based on your childs needs. It is important to consult your occupational therapist for an individually-designed wearing schedule, but generally, it could be 20-30 minutes worn, 20-30 minutes off, or activity-based duration. Some parents and educators feel that compression vests are helpful during especially stressful times . Should your child require additional, more consistent input throughout the day, consider adding a tight-fitting undershirt .

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    Weighted Vests And Deep Touch Pressure

    A weighted vest provides deep touch pressure or proprioceptive input which has a calming, organizing effect on the child. If your child sees an occupational therapist, he/she may have recommended the wearables as part of a comprehensive sensory diet to help children who have sensory processing disorder or self-regulation difficulties.

    Deep touch pressure has many physiological benefits that promote self regulation. In times of stress, anxiety, or emergency, the sympathetic system of your central nervous system responds with a fight or flight reaction. DTP helps to combat that reaction by decreasing the level of cortisol . This effect is most helpful for people who experience stress, anxiety, or fear on a regular basis .

    Deep touch pressure also results in increased endorphin levels and releases the happy hormones serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate some brain functions and help with mood regulation. It is also known to stimulate parts of the brain that are responsible for sleep and the production of melatonin. Dopamine is a happy hormone that controls the reward or pleasure center of the brain. While it regulates our emotional responses and is in action when we set or achieve goals, an excess of dopamine is also linked to risk taking and addiction.

    Benefits Of Weighted Vests

    Why Weighted Blankets Actually Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum

    The use of weighted vests is controversial, with many experts believing they can cause more harm than good. Some parents, educators, and researchers, however, strongly support the use of weighted vests for children who are hyperactive, highly distractible, or who crave additional sensory input. Possible benefits of weighted vests include:

    • Some children who are easily distracted or lack concentration may find the vests calming.
    • Some evidence shows that children with autism, ADHD, sensory integration disorder, and other neurological conditions may experience improvement in sensory integration and attention when wearing a weighted vest.
    • When used by a trained professional and with the child’s permission and cooperation, weighted vests are safe to wear.
    • The variety of designs and materials available mean children can wear the vests under their clothing. This decreases the likelihood of teasing or other issues at school.

    Read Also: Life Expectancy Of Autistic People

    What Is A Weighted Vest For Autism

    For adults and kids with autism, a weighted vest is said to be a sensory instrument to help increase focus, concentration, and self-regulation. Weighted vests provide proprioceptive input using deep pressure which sends signals to the brain which, as a result, helps a person feel calm and increase focus.

    Why Your Therapist Will Recommend A Weighted Vest For Your Child With Autism

    It would be up to a childs therapist to determine whether a weighted vest would be helpful in achieving occupational tasks.

    Despite lack of science-based evidence of its effectiveness at this time, school-based therapists continue to use weighted vests to help students with autism and other learning disabilities cope with their daily classroom tasks . Vests are worn with the help of teachers to record its effects and ensure safety and comfort for the child.

    Weighted vests can also be an option if a parent does not want medication to suppress stimming and other unusual behaviors that may be part of the childs autism.

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    Which Individuals Can Weighted Products Help

    As mentioned above, the idea behind weighted products is to help with calming. Therefore, it would follow that they will be best suited for children who experience sensitivity with their senses. This could include individuals who experience sensory overloador those who experience common sensory differences like touch sensitivityor sound sensitivity. It might include those with autism or ADHD.

    Weighted Vest For Adults With Autism

    Does Research Say that Weighted Vests &  Blankets Help ...

    The use and benefits of weighted vests for children are the same for adults. However, certain adjustments can be made, so it fits the persons age and preference.

    For instance, therapists recommend up to 12 percent of the persons body weight instead of 5 to 10 percent.

    Adults with autism may wear weighted vests to counter anxiety, stress, or impulsive behavior.

    Temple Grandin, in her book Emergence: Labeled Autistic, described her own experience with autism and how deep pressure helped her overcome severe anxiety and stress .

    Recommended Reading: Autistic Person Lifespan

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