This is a question I have been asked twice in the past week – so here are some tips and hopefully some answers….

There are several types of vests available – some work on a compression basis (ie they give a tight hug of varying degrees) , others work on weight and some have a combination of the two.   Some children (and adults) with autism and associated sensory issues respond better to weight and others prefer a tight squeeze to help them feel calmer and less anxious.  Everyone is different and it is a question of finding out what is most effective for the individual.

I am using the term “vest” here to cover a multitude of different garments such as weighted jackets, waistcoats, gillets etc which are often referred to as vests even if technically they are not actually a vest!

Vests such as the “bearhug” compression vest (which gives a tight hug but has no weight) can be worn under clothing as it is not bulky and would go under a jumper or sweatshirt.   I would personally recommend wearing it over a t-shirt as if worn next to the skin it could become rather hot and sweaty after a short while.   The same applies to a weighted compression vest, which has some compression (but not as much as the bearhug) and some weight and like the bearhug vest is made principally of neoprene.   This is a little bulkier that the bearhug vest (due to the weights) but again it could be worn under a jumper if required.

Weighted Jackets / Waistcoats are not designed to be worn under clothing but on top of other clothes.  If discretion is a concern and the wearer does not wish to “stand out” as different, at Sensory Direct we make a weighted hoody that looks like any other hoody available.

One thing to point out about all of these items is that they are not designed to be worn 100% of the time.   They are most effective when worn for stints of 20-30 minutes at a time – wear them all the time and the weight or deep pressure becomes the norm for the body and the effect is lessened.

One item of clothing that can be worn all the time under other clothes is our Sensory Hug Shirt.  Made of a soft cotton with a mix of stretchy lycra,  this soft comfy shirt gives gentle compression all day long.