For parents of children with autism or ADHD, each day can
present new struggles for calming their children during a tantrum or
meltdown. While they are not used
much even today, weighted or pressure vests are tools, in addition to weighted
blankets, that have a calming effect on children with disabilities.
Very few scientific studies have investigated the usefulness
of pressure vests, but testimony from those that use the vests is positive.
Weighted vests can be used for children with autism, ADHD,
sensory integration disorders, or neurological disorders. Sensory Goods is a company that makes
affordable weighted products, and each of their pressure vests has eight
pockets with sewn-in weights. Made
from neoprene, which is a synthetic material, these vests are durable, although
they are not recommended to be worn on bare skin.
Most manufacturers and caregivers who use weighted vests
suggest that children should wear the vest in 20-minute intervals, so for every
20 minutes the child wears the vest, he should take it off for 20 minutes.
While the field of pressure vests still lacks a great deal
of scientific proof, many children who are easily distracted, hyperactive, or
lack concentration benefit from the use of weighted vests.
How Do Pressure Vests
Pressure vests provide proprioceptive feedback to a child
with a sensory processing disorder.
Proprioceptors are sensors that aid in a child’s 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 child’s response to
the stimulus causing frustration or anxiety, which allows the child to calm
Most children love wearing the vest because of the sensation
it provides. Children who love
hugging or squishing behaviors or who exhibit actions such as jumping,
restlessness, or disorganization often benefit from pressure vests. Most children who utilize the pressure
vest will advance in their therapy sessions, and their concentration will also
Weighted vests can be worn during gross motor activities or
other general at-home activities.
Sensory Goods makes pressure vests in child and adult sizes.
Early Intervention Support