For many years, people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) have been advised to use a weighted vest as they offer a calming effect on them. The weighted vests are highly recommended in sensory integration therapy and they are easy to carry around than other accessories.
The various research and studies about weighted vests for autism have come out with mixed results. So as a parent or family of a person with autism, you have to know all the good and bad effects of wearing a weighted vest.
Let’s look into the health benefits of a weighted vest for autism.
What is a Weighted Vest for Autism?
The weighted compression vest is designed to provide deep touch pressure (DTP) or proprioceptive, steady, and calming effect aiding people with autism. The weight and pressure are combined function of a weight vest which offers the feeling of a deep hug and snug.
These weighted vests help to keep autistic patients stay comfortable and relaxed during fearful and uncomfortable situations.
The weighted compressions vests are similar to dog anxiety vests. Like dog anxiety vests, it helps the autism people to get rid of their stressful behaviors and activities which improves their quality of life.
The vest is easy to use as it wraps the body with ease. It acts like a “portable hugger”. This is what we’ve mentioned above as deep pressure touch.
Basically, these weighted vests are made from Neoprene and soft mesh materials to provide added comfort and breathability.
Benefits of Weighted Vests for Autism
Different approaches and techniques are used depending on the patient’s condition. Always consult a physician before making a purchase as people with autism are of different situations. Below are guidelines and the benefits of weight vest on autistic patients.
The common benefits that a weighted vest can do to a person with autism are as following:
- Increases the focus and attention
- Decreases self-stressing behaviors
- Instant calming and relaxing effect
- Decreases hyperactivity
- Reduce anxiety
- Promotes self-regulation
- Initiates body awareness
- Active mood
- Improves balance
- Better emotion control
- How to Use a Weighted Vest
Unfortunately, no research or study that states the exact wearing schedules for a weighted vest, but it is mostly recommended to use the weighted vest during the activities. If the person wears a weighted vest for 20 to 40 minutes of their activities, make sure they remove it on the exact period. This is to allow the nervous system to reset and rest. Educators prefer weighted vests in stressful places.
Ready the weighted vest with 5-10% of the person’s body weight. For instance, if the person is 40lbs, the vest weighs only between 2-4lbs. this is to avoid overstraining the body with more weight that is not safe.
Weighted vests, if properly used, can be an effective SPD therapy for anyone with autism. Not only using weighted vests but with all the sensory strategy or approach, you should consult the person’s OT for more detailed therapy to making it work as you expect.