While there is no single formula, certain behaviors may guide a wearing schedule, in consultation with your OT. For example, is the child having difficulty with self regulation during the day, or with a specific task? When and where do you observe issues with attention and focus?
The deep pressure, or proprioceptive input, of a weighted vest can increase on-task behavior as documented in research that measures the impact.
Pair The Vest With the ActivityYou can use a weighted vest just for specific times and activities such as doing homework, working at a desk, taking a test, etc. In these cases, it may be best to wait and put the vest on just as the activity is beginning or a couple of minutes beforehand. When the activity is over, you can remove the vest. Think of it much like putting on a weighted apron to have a dental x-ray. Its purpose is served during the actual activity. And some of us, by the way, love those weighted dental aprons!
Start At 5%Though there is no magic weight, we recommend 5%, which just adds a slight amount of weight to your child. You can add more if it is craved, tolerated or needed as most vests have pockets to hold additional weights. We do not recommend more than 10% for a vest though it is up to the parent and therapist to make that determination. We also caution against using weights with children who have compromised joints such as muscular dystrophy.
Consider Social ApplicationsWill your child feel socially comfortable in a weighted vest? One idea is to have 2-3 weighted vests available for the classroom so no child is singled out. You can also vary the source of weight by offering weighted lap pads, suspenders, cap or scarf.
Let Your Child ChooseIn addition to feeling socially comfortable, it is often best to let your child or teen choose their own vest so they can select the style, material and look that they prefer. A hug tee or under hugger can be paired with the vest for all day compression, or for when the vest is off.
Keep A Sample Vest on HandAs a therapist, it is great to have a sample vest available to trial. Teachers will love you for this and can give you instant feedback on its effectiveness before they suggest a purchase to the parents.
A vest can be real lifesaver for many children, teens and adults with sensory needs. The wearable weight provides the compression and comfort of a hug at home, school or work.