Friday, May 6, 2011

V is for Vest

Deep Pressure Vest
Many people with autism also experience sensory integration problems. You may notice that your son wears long sleeved shirts and pants, even in the warmest weather. Or perhaps your daughter can't tolerate seams in socks, or tags in any of her clothes. Some kids run around constantly, jump, climb, hang upside down, or purposely bump into things. Others will squeeze their eyes shut tightly if the room is too bright, or cover their ears to block out certain sounds.

Sensory integration disorder (also called sensory processing disorder) can co-exist with autism spectrum disorders, and has also been seen in people with ADHD. It can be diagnosed by an occupational therapist (OT) who will know lots of strategies for dealing with it. One of the strategies we used with our son for many years was a deep pressure vest, as seen in the photo at right. I have written an article that gives more information on our experience with the pressure vest, and how it differs from a weighted vest. I hope you'll check it out.

It looks like all the hard work is finally paying off, and our son will soon be saying goodbye to his pressure vest forever. Right now we are conducting a trial at school, so his OT can evaluate whether he can manage without it. We had already stopped using it at home some time ago. And his use of the vest at school was reduced a fair bit too. Assuming the trial goes well, he won't use it at all anymore.

This is one of those moments we reach as parents of special needs kids, that we thought for a long time we would never see. It helps to see the progress, especially when in other areas we still struggle. We are always growing together, and looking back on the years we relied heavily on the vest to help our son deal with sensory input I feel great today. A step at a time, we're moving forward!

I'm blogging my way from Z to A in May!
You can find my "W" post at Parenting in the 21st Century.

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Anonymous said...

My oldest son has Aspergers -- I see elements of what you describe in him. He hates wearing clothes -- would rather wear shorts in winter than have anything touch his skin -- and is very, very particular about the types of clothes and even towels we use.

Joyce Lansky said...

I've never heard of a pressure vest but it sounds like an amazing invention. Best of luck to you and your son.