The Benefits of Weighted Jackets for Autism & Sensory Integration
So, what is a weighted jacket and how do they benefit children with Autism? The first thing to say is that not every child on the autistic spectrum will benefit from a weighted jacket or compression vest. Weight and compression helps those with sensory processing disorder (SPD) which often accompanies autism (but not always – some people can also have SPD but are not on the autistic spectrum).
SPD can show itself in different ways. It often affects the proprioceptive sense, which is our sense of body position and the vestibular sense which is our movement sense. Those with poor body awareness and a lacking of that instinctive sense of where the body and limbs are in relation to everything else will often maintain constant movement on order to “feel” where their body is. Someone with SPD once described lying still on a bed, looking down and seeing their body but feeling completely disconnected from it – as if it didn’t belong to them. Only moving their arms & legs would reconnect them to their own body. In younger children these often manifests itself in constant running, fidgeting and stimming (self-stimulatory behaviour such as twirling, chewing etc.) and a love of activities such as trampolining.
This sensory seeking behaviour can present challenges both at home and in school. The weight in a weighted jacket applies deep pressure to the body enabling the wearer to feel more in tune with their body. This in terms helps to calm, reduce anxiety and allow increased focus and concentration.
The reducing of anxiety by wearing a weighted jacket is a key benefit. We recently had a very bright student (in mainstream and taking GCSEs) in who tried all manner of weighted jackets in our office and was able to explain how she found them to be of enormous comfort, making her feel more relaxed and able to sit still for longer periods without the need to fidget.
At Sensory Direct we understand that many children and teens do not want to stand out and appear different (and as parents neither so we!) and so we make a range of weighted jackets, gillets and weighted hoodies that look like any normal item of clothing. All of our weighted jackets contain 7 pockets (the hoody has 8 as it has one in the hood). The 2 most important are on the shoulders as weight here gives a real sense of weight pressing down on the shoulders. Additional weight can be added in the 5 pockets around the torso. All weights are removable.
As a rule we recommend that a weighted jacket should not exceed 5% of the user’s bodyweight and this is roughly the weight we supply with each weighted jacket. We recommend that you consult with your Occupational Therapist and you can add or remove weight as required.
We make weighted jackets in all sizes from small children (about 5 years old) right up to Large Adult. All of our jackets are made by ourselves and are manufactured in accordance with CE and MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Authority) guidelines. One of our most popular is our fleece gillet which is good looking at flexible - it is available in navy, dark green or burgundy red and in a sizes from small child to large adult