What is Weighted Vest and How it Works?
If you are unfamiliar with the basics of what a weighted vest is, and how it helps children in everyday task, then it is a must read for you!! A weighted vest is just that: a vest-like garment that is worn over clothing, with some additional weight either sewn into pockets or embedded in the fabric lining.
A weighted vest provides deep touch pressure (DTP), or proprioceptive input, which has a calming, organizing effect on the child.
Occupational therapists often recommend weighted vests and weighted blankets that provide deep touch pressure as part of a comprehensive sensory diet to help children with autism, attention deficit disorder, sensory processing disorder, or self-regulation difficulties. It also helps to reduce classroom negative behaviours like flapping, rocking, hitting, throwing tantrums etc and encourage positive behaviours like staying on task, following instructions, eye contact, purpose full requests and many more to participate in everyday functional activities.
Some benefits that have been reported by the Class teachers, parents and the therapists are,
- Increased focus/attention
- Increased seated time-on-task.
- Decrease self-stimulatory behaviours.
- calm and organization.
- Decreased hyperactivity.
- Assist with self-regulation.
- Reduced frequency of sensory overload
- Improved body awareness
- Makes transitions easier.
- Reduces anxiety.
- Promotes and improves sleep.
How Heavy Should be a Weighted Vest and How Long Should the Child Wear the Vest?
The weighted vest is designed individually for each child and not applicable for any other child of the similar age as the usage of a weighted vest depends on the child’s tolerance and his needs. As per the American Academy of Paediatrics guidelines it should not exceed more than the 10% of the child’s body weight.
The duration for the usage of a weighted vest is based on multiple factors. It has been proposed if child will keep the vest on for longer periods of time their body would make adjustments to accommodate the weight and does not provides any therapeutic benefits. Most of the occupational therapists use two pounds weighted vest twice a day for 30minutes during the tabletop activities for favourable results.
Weighted vests can be a helpful sensory strategy for children with autism and sensory processing difficulties when used appropriately and in-line with specific student needs during the classroom activities. At HOPE AMC Dubai our Occupational Therapists design an individualized child’s comprehensive sensory diet that help them to improve their attention, focus, improves their academic performance and encourage positive behaviour during the classroom activities.