Process of getting a weighted vest

Stephanie M. L. Potts, MOTR/L
Weighted vests can provide deep,
sustained pressure. Research has
shown that the application of deep
pressure can be calming for a child,
decreasing purposeless
hyperactivity, and increase
functional attention to purposeful
activities (VandenBerg, 2001, p
If it is determined that a student can benefit
from a weighted vest by the occupational
therapist the following steps are taken:
1. The child is measured for the appropriate size vest.
2. The student is weighted to determine the appropriate
amount of weighted needed in vest.
3. A consent form is sent home to the parent explaining that a
weighted vest is suggested, the weight amount that the student
will be wearing, and evidence based literature that supports the
use of weighted vests.
4. The vest is weighted based on 4-7% of the child’s overall
5. A weighted vest is never applied until parent consent is
received back.
A study conducted by VandenBerg (2001)
concluded that on-task behavior increased by
“18%- 25% when wearing a weighted vest” (p
Occupational therapists who were interviewed
during a study regarding perceived affects of
weighted vests concluded that they were
effective for “increasing the following
behaviors: staying on task, staying in seat, and
attention span” (Olson & Moulton, 2004a, p 59).
Weighted vests should be work 2-3 times
throughout the day for no more then 30
minutes at a time.
Never have a student wear a weighted vest
during recess or gym.
Weighted vests are most beneficial when being
worn during table top writing activities where
students are expected to maintain sitting for an
extended period of time.
The Wilbarger brushing protocol
consists of brushing and
compression program in
conjunction with a sensory diet
for optimal results.
Brushing and joint compressions
helps the calm and regulate the
students body.
Protocol should be done every 90
minutes for optimal results.
Research shows that the Wilbarger brushing
protocol can be affective for children with sensory
A research study done by Pfeiffer, Kinnealey, Reed,
and Herzberg (2005) declared, “individuals with
sensory defensiveness, social interactions, and
environments over which they have no control may
make the person feel uncomfortable or distressed
and lead to avoidant behaviors” (p 342).
Wilbarger brushing protocol can implemented
within the classroom by a teacher, it should also be
taken into consideration that the Wilbarger
brushing protocol is not utilized by itself but rather,
“it should be used in conjunction with other
interventions such as a sensory diet” (Davich, 2009,
p 16.
Sensory diet is described as,
“several strategies that are put
together in order to modulate
arousal, attention, affect and
action for an individual” (Bongatt
& Hall, 2010, p 295).
Improvements in students
distractibility by an external
stimuli and initiation to carry out
tasks independently have been
noted in research studies with the
implementation of a sensory diet.
Activities can include:
1. Erasing chalk board, carrying snack bag,
pushing weighted cart
2. Scooter activities
3. Shaving cream activities used for
handwriting preparation
4. Weighted vests and blankets
5. Activities on a therapy ball
6. Jumping, “crashing” into pillows in
crash room, hopping
7. Movement break activities- wall
pushups, hand pushes, and chair
8. Take 10 movement breaks
Implementation of Sensory Integrative Interventions
in the classroom by the teacher, as directed by the
occupational therapist can significantly help students
within the classroom to maintain attention and focus
on academic related work.
Ayres, J. (1979). Sensory integration and the child. Los Angeles: Western Psychological services.
Autism Research Institute. (2012, March). Sensory Integration. Retrieved from:
Bonggat, P., & Hall, L. (2010). Evaluation of the effects of sensory integration-based intervention by a preschool special
education teacher. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 45(2), 294-302.
Futrell, M. (2006, October). Neuromuscular Control, Proprioception and Balance. Retrieved from
Mullen, B., Champagne, T., Krishnamurty, S., Dickson, D., & Goa, R. (2008). Exploring the safety and therapeutic effects
of deep pressure stimulation using a weighted blanket. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 24(1), 65-89.
National Institute of Health. (2012, February). Balance Disorders. Retrieved from
Olson, L. & Moulton, H. (2004a). Use of weighted vests in pediatric occupational therapy practice. Physical & Occupational
Therapy in Pediatrics, 24(3), 45-60.
Schilling, D., Washington, F., & Deitz, J. (2003). Classroom seating for children with attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder: Therapy balls versus chairs. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57, 534-541.
Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (2011). Use of multisensory environments in schools for students with severe disabilities:
Perceptions from schools. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 46 (2), 276-290.
VandenBerg, N.L. (2001). The use of a weighted vest to increase on-task behavior in children with attention difficulties.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 621-628.