Questions are often more important than the answers and can lead to a clearer understanding of the child’s challenges and needs. For example, is the child having difficulty with a specific task? When and where do you observe issues with attention and focus?
A number of studies document the positive impact of weighted vests. However there is no real science to time on and weight, which still leaves many of us scratching our heads. Fortunately, there are helpful guidelines for overall use.
Pair The Vest With the Activity. You 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 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 Applications. Will 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, belt, suspenders, cap or scarf.
Let Your Child Choose. In 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 can be paired with the vest for all day compression, or for when the vest is off.
Keep A Sample Vest on Hand. As 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.