Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weighted Vests - Helping Kids With Autism and ADHD

I recently read an article on ScienceDaily.com about the use of weighted vests for kids with Autism, ADD and sensory issues. I have often seen kids in my son's class using weighted lap pads, weighted shoulder bags and even weighted vests. These products are designed to provide proprioception (deep pressure) to the student to help them pay attention. For many kids this type of therapy product helps them stay calm and focused by stimulating their muscles and joints though deep pressure.

Although it makes perfect sense and I have seen it work for some kids I have often wondered if there was any research on the efficacy of these products and which ones work best. The article on ScienceDaily.com discussed a new "deep-pressure" vest that has been developed by Brian Mullen at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. According to the article, Mullen and his associates conducted 8 clinical research studies to test the safety and effectiveness of using existing weighted blankets and vests. He used the data from these studies to design a prototype system that can apply Deep Pressure via a unit that can be inserted into any commercial vest or jacket that has a lining. This makes it easier to carry around and ensures the student using the system will not stick out based on the need for deep pressure in the classroom. The initial testing of the prototype was done on adults who do not have autism so the verdict is still out on his success but the adults in the trial did prefer the prototype vest. This new vest applies pressure which feels like a firm hug or swaddling instead of just weight on the shoulders or lap.

Although Mullen's new product is not yet available it signals new hope for kids with Autism and ADHD. Personally, I have found it very difficult to find weighted products that can be shipped in any type of timely manner or delivered on a consistent basis. I have contacted a several vendors about carrying them in our store but all the companies I have found work on a small scale so availability is limited and inconsistent. Most of the mom's I meet who use these with their kids have made their own or gone to a local seamstress because they were so frustrated in trying to find a resource that was able to deliver product in a timely manner (or at all). Mullen has created a company called Therapeutic Systems to market his product so we look forward the vest being further developed. His invention will fill a void in the marketplace and help special needs kids stay focused so they can learn and keep up with their peers.

Alycia Shapiro is Vice President in charge of product development for SensoryEdge. She has advocated for special needs children in order to get the therapy services they need. Many parents either have difficulty getting the proper services or might not know these services are available. Visit her website SensoryEdge to learn more about Play Therapy and Balance and Movement Help for Children.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alycia_Shapiro

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