Article first published as Compression Garment Alternatives for Children with Autism on Technorati.
This summer has been a rough one for my son. He’s starting to regress from saying some words and spelling to nothing again, and his behavior has become more agitated every day he is not in school. We needed to do something.
We have been told about weighted compression vests before. Our son’s occupational therapist has mentioned weighted vests, and his response to them at school as part of his sensory integration therapy. Compression vests, much like weighted vests, increase the sensory input and helps some children with autism who suffer from to little sensory stimulation calm down. There’s some interesting research done by Lang et al which outline the sensory needs of children on the spectrum found here.
Anyway, I’ve priced the weighted compression vests before, and they tend to be pretty pricey (about $54 each). So we have been agonizing over whether or not to pick one up. But then, just by chance at a Costco, we saw something that made me think. Children’s life vests are made of Neoprene, much like a weighted compression vest. They are heavy, but not too heavy (not great for weight, but works), and they are easy to get on and adjust the pressure via the straps.
We were thinking of something for the kids anyway when we get to the beach for our summer vacation, so we picked them up to see what they would do. The change was dramatic, more than I was expecting. My son went from running around and jumping on the furniture to walking and sitting. It was a little too tight for him, but a little adjustment worked wonders later on.
The vests were about $30 a piece (we got one for our other son too), which made for a great comparison to a compression vest. It also gets him used to wearing it, so when we are at the beach he will have no trouble with it on. And the change made all the difference in the world for him.
Now, I’m not telling you all to go out and get a life vest for your child with autism, just because it works for my son. It may not work for your child. But it’s something to check out, and with the prices of vests at discount club stores like Costco and Sam’s Club, it might be a better alternative to expensive vests when you don’t know how well it will work for your child.