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Weighted Jackets provide deep pressure and have a ‘calming and organising’ effect on the body’s proprioceptive system. The Jackets are commonly recommended by Occupational Therapists for use in the classroom. They help to increase attention-span and reduce the hyperactivity often seen in children with autism, ADHD, and sensory or learning difficulties.
A weighted jacket can benefit children who;
- Have autism, ADHD, or sensory processing disorder
- Display hyperactivity, such as excessive shifting in their seat
- Have a short attention span and are easily distracted
- Show tactile sensitivities such as needing to touch everything, or being resistant to touch
- Have a poor awareness of their body position
- Display self-stimulatory behaviour such as rocking, twirling and chewing
Occupational Therapist Nancy Vandenberg conducted research on children with ADHD and the use of weighted jackets in the classroom (Vandenberg 2001). Students with ADHD were studied in the classroom performing fine motor activities for 15 minute periods, both with and without a weighted jacket. The research showed;
- Concentration on tasks increased from 18% to 25% in all students tested
- 75% of the pupils frequently asked to wear the jacket even when they weren’t being observed
The research recommends using a jacket for maximum periods of 30 to 40 minutes. Then give the child a rest for a similar period before using it again.
How do our Weighted Jackets look?
Jackets can have weights in different areas -
- Weight around the waist area only
- Weight around the shoulder area as a way of applying deep pressure to the upper body
Sensory Direct jackets are discreet and have a non-clinical look. Without close inspection you would not know it was a ‘special’ jacket. This is an important consideration for all using these jackets, particularly for children in mainstream schools, who don’t want to stand out from their peers.
Where do you recommend using Weighted Jackets?
Weighted jackets are designed for the classroom or other passive activities. They are not recommended for outside play or any other physical activities. Weighted jackets are also useful in a wide variety of other environments such as restaurants, cafes, church or cinemas when it is necessary for the child to sit calmly for a period of time. Other situations may include a busy shopping centre to help keep a child calm and reduce anxiety.
What weight should my jacket be?
The most effective weighted jackets are those which are flexible and allow the weight to be varied. This can be done by using the removable weights which slot into pockets in the jacket. It is important that these weights are evenly distributed throughout the jacket. Removable weights also make washing much easier.
There is no definitive weight guide when selecting a Weighted Jacket. As with a weighted blanket, enough weight is required to make the jacket effective but not too much as to make the jacket uncomfortable. The generally accepted principle for jackets, used by many OT’s is that a weighted jacket should not exceed 5% of the child’s bodyweight. For smaller and younger children it may be advisable to use less than 5%. We would recommend that you always consult with your OT particularly if you are devising a sensory diet for your child.
Case Study – Weighted Jackets
Helen is 5 years old and has diagnoses of; Autism, ADHD, and Global Developmental Delay.
Lots of children on the autistic spectrum feel anxious a lot of the time. Helen’s father John explains that, “One of Helen’s particular needs is to feel safe and secure. She used to achieve this by wearing various backpacks and tight fitting clothes which were too small. Sometimes she would wear 2 or 3 backpacks at the same time. This apparel was not always appropriate, particularly given the weather in the UK”.
John continues, “She found great comfort in wearing a swimming costume which was for a 3-year old but she managed to fit into somehow by stretching it to its limits. She is a very eccentric little girl and does not really care what other people think of what she is wearing”.
John purchased a weighted jacket for Helen and noticed an immediate impact. “We found that the weighted jacket calmed her down completely. Her behaviour improved, the tantrums decreased, and we managed to give the swimming costume to a charity shop – when she was not looking!”
Now Helen uses the weighted jacket in school, at the discretion of her Learning Support Assistant and in church to help her sit still for short periods of time. Her father goes on to say that, “life for Helen and the rest of the immediate family has hugely improved, especially when she has worn the jacket for a period of time – normally about 20-30 minutes”.
Inspired to give a Weighted Jacket a go? View our range of Weighted Jackets today.