Deep Pressure Vest
Update at the bottom!!!
Most people that are reading this will already know what a deep pressure and weighted vests are. For those of you that don't a deep pressure and weighted vests tend to create a soothing affect on people with autism. What makes the sense different in a person with autism is unclear at the moment. I believe that the predominant theory is that the senses are hypersensitive or hypo sensitive in comparison to a person who does not have autism. By applying pressure the senses are temporarily dulled and the individual can then focus and think better.
When I initially took on the task of making a deep pressure vest for Jake, I first noted that he only wanted pressure across his chest torso section. He did not seem to care for weight on his shoulders. At the time I had only seen vests like figure 1. It is a fairly simple design. It wears like a poncho and weight can be added at the bottom poncho by adding lead ingots, sand bags, rice bags, etc. Again, however, the pressure is being applied to shoulders in this design and not the torso. So this design would not have helped Jake at all.
I immediately thought neoprene would be the best idea. I developed four designs. One of the designs looked identical to figure 2. I personally use a neoprene support to exercise my diaphragm for an hour daily. Immediately I believed that this sort of pressure was exactly what Jake wanted as well. I had his mother put on my neoprene support and he immediately liked it. His mother said he asked for it for several days after words. I took that as a sign that I was on the right track.
I have narrowed it down to two designs so far. I plan to make both of them eventually. One thing I know from personal experience is that neoprene tends to chaff your skin a lot. I plan to sew spandex on the inside of the vest to help prevent that. Another issue that I am dealing with is the fact that Jake still needs to breath while wearing the vest. All of my designs allow him to breath easily via his stomach muscles. The last hurdle is that Jake needs to be in complete control of the vest. I want him to have the option of complete autonomy if he so desires it. His dexterity is not terribly high so this has been a real challenge as well.
I have come to the conclusion that their will probably be many prototypes in the making of this vest. But once done I believe that this vest will help more than anything else I could ever make.
Right now I am in the process of raising the money to make the vest. At 7 cents a square inch, neoprene is very costly. Hopefully I will be able to get the money together in the next month or so. If you would like to help me raise money you can do so by signing up for some of the programs that this link will take you too. For every hour you are on net, I will get between 5 and 10 cents. You will get on average 50 cents. I really do appreciate it. If you have any questions please feel free to email me. Thank you.
There are several vests on the market right now. Here is a link to where you can buy one if you would like.
I am of the opinion that buying a vest is not an option. Every person is unique and where an autistic person needs pressure does appear to be unique to the individual. There fore the best option is to do a custom design for the individual and not to buy one that is mass produced.
We decided to go ahead and purchase the neoprene vest above. After 4 months, we had only raised 60 dollars, and we needed twice that to make the vest. However, Velvasoft sells this vest for 58 dollars and since Jake really really needs this vest now we decided to buy it and try it out. The people at Velvasoft were very nice and full of information. I definitely recommend them to other people who are in need of this or similar products.
Jake loved the vest. It even got a spontaneous thank you for the gift, which is a bit of a rarity for Jake to do anything without cueing him for the task. When his mother asked him if he wanted to take it off, he adamantly said, "NO!" This was an important test as to whether he really liked it. When Jake does not like something he is very passive, and would have put it on or taken it off as his mother instructed him. The fact that he refused to take it off was a clear sign that this vest gave Jake the pressure he needed in the areas that he needed it.
I would like to thank everyone who helped in the fund raiser to get Jake this vest. Dont stop now though, we are now trying to get him the pants to match.
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