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Selecting a Weighted Vest for Your Child with Sensory Issues

From Fun and Function Therapeutic Toys and Clothing
They're stylish, fun and therapeutic! Buying a weighted vest is a wise decision if you have someone you know with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD or a sensory difference. The heavy load from a weighted vest stimulates touch receptors, pulls on the muscles and joint receptors and provides a fashionable tool for educing calm and focus. But, benefits outweigh just calm and focus. Wearing a weighted vest can assist with the ability to sit for longer periods of time, reduce anxiety, and provide a much needed "hug" to the core. There are a variety of styles and sizes of weighted vests so choosing one can be a bit overwhelming. But don't fret; take a look at a few tips to help guide you through choosing the best weighted vest for your child, teen or adult.

  1. Measure your child. Be sure the vest you select fits your child appropriately. Most all vests come with sizing directions and or a size chart. The vest should be snug if it is combined with pressure or fit just like an ordinary vest if it contains weight alone. Though you may want an adjustable vest or one that leaves room for growth, be sure that the vest is not too large, or you will loose the benefits of the pressure or weight.

  2. Select the vest that is about 5% of body weight. Though this is not an exact science and your child may prefer a heavier weight, aiming for 5-10% percent of the body weight is a good target when selecting your vest. This provides just enough input without getting into an area that might cause any orthopedic problems. Be sure the vest does not cause your child to slump forward or alter their posture in any way.

  3. Find the material your child prefers. You can choose denim, stretch denim (adds pressure), neoprene (adds pressure), polyester, mesh (pressure only) and so forth. Do you live where it's cold? You may prefer neoprene, fleece or fur; and if you are in a hotter area, you may like denim or mesh. Most vests work like ordinary clothing and can be washed and dried (after weights are removed).

  4. Weight or Weight with Pressure? Some weighted vests provide weight alone either with weight at the hips or shoulders. Some vests also provide pressure. If your child is a sensory seeker you may prefer to get a vest that combines weight and pressure. If your child has milder needs, you may wish to start with pressure or weight alone. Pocket weights are easy to manage, put in and take out. Shoulder weights add some additional input down through the core.

Now that you've selected your vest you can use your vest in a variety of ways and circumstances. Many parents and therapists like to suggest wearing a vest in 20-minute increments so as to prevent accommodation, but it really depends on the needs of your child. You can also take out the weights or vary the amount of weight. The vest or the weights can be used alone as a sensory tools. You may prefer using the vest when concentration or when sitting still is most needed such as when doing school work, homework or having to sit in the car. Be sure to take good care of your vest and remove the weights before washing to ensure your vest lasts a long time.


Fun and Function is a maker of special needs toys and kid-friendly sensory tools and therapy equipment to build skills and self-esteem. Email Fun and Function or call them at: 800-231-6329.
Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.

 

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