15 responses

  1. JoyMama
    July 7, 2009

    Very snazzy! Ours is less attractive, perhaps, but a very useful tool — wonder if there’s something in the air, because Joy has been all Tigger-y too lately, lots of unauthorized climbing & jumping the past couple of weeks. Her OT built her vest out of a floaty-swim-vest, one of those things that looks a bit like a barrel and has removable floats. Take out the floats, put in the weights, voila. (But then don’t go swimming with it… heh.) For weights we’ve got beanbags stitched to the size of the floaties, plus we then added some doorhinges folded in half and wrapped in duct-tape to blunt the clinking & sharp edges.

    We find ourselves using ankle weights in combination with the vest. It’s amazing how mobile she is even with all that weight on, but it definitely helps the Tigger-ish-ness. At least while they’re on, which we’ve been told 30-45 min tops. The effect doesn’t seem to last particularly beyond that, which is counter to the sensory theories. Sigh. But we’ll take what we can get.

  2. Pam
    July 7, 2009

    Hey guys, glad to hear the vest is helping (I know Mary from HL forum on Delphi). Another option for weighting it down is stainless steel shot, it won’t rust or corrode like some other metals so you can wash it if you need to. I may have told you this before, at least I meant to at one point. But Connie Fox has a website where you can order it in 1lb packages, its used to polish & clean silver jewelry (you put it in a rock tumbler with the jewelry, some shot, and liquid Dawn dish soap & in 1-4 hours it comes out blindingly sparkly).

  3. Mary
    July 7, 2009

    Hey Pam! We thought about using shot, but we can’t find a place to buy it in person, and don’t really want to order something online that might not fit into the pockets. I’ll look it up though, and if it has dimensions, we might try it.

    I have also considered going back to the sporting goods store and buying ankle weights in a higher weight, since I think they would have to use heavier whatever they use for the weights (and I think it’s shot!) because you can only make them so big and still fit around the ankle… and then taking apart the individual packets and putting them into 1/2 lb packets that would then be smaller than the ones we have now. (Garbled explanation I know!)
    thanks Pam!

  4. Mary
    July 7, 2009

    JoyMama, the swim vest thing is SUCH a good idea! I am totes going to tell the J-man’s teachers about it, because they have decided that my mom should branch out and create a business making weighted vests (for less than the $$$ we saw them for online). The swim vest idea is awesome!

    I don’t know if the J-man would handle ankle weights well, but he HAS suddenly decided that he must wear shoes ALL THE TIME, whereas before he would come in the door and either have us take them off, or pull them off himself.

  5. Pam
    July 10, 2009

    Hi Mary,
    I have a ton of shot (not really, I have 2 pounds) and I can tell you that most of it is pretty small. Let me go measure …

    The round pieces & things that look like little space ships are 1/8″ in diameter. The oblong things are a little less than 1/8″ in width but almost 1/4″ in length. And the “pins” are just over 1/4″ in length, but only 1/16″ in diameter. It comes in different shapes so that when it hits the jewelry it can ping into all the little crevices & clean even tiny details. I think that means you’d have to sew the pouches with a fairly tight seam to avoid the “pins” from coming out. BTW – pins aren’t sharp, they are just called that for some reason. You can also buy shot without pins, they include the other shapes but not pins.

    But it generally isn’t cheap stuff, either. At $20/lb that works out to $40 – $60 per vest. I’d guess my 2 pounds of shot fill a 3-cup bowl (maybe less) so at least it is compact.

  6. Mary
    July 10, 2009

    Pam, you can buy 10lbs of shot for like $16… not with all the special shapes though!

  7. Lisa
    August 31, 2009

    my son who was diagnosed with mild autism has a vest and it is definatly a life saver. So much so I am now an advocate of weighted vest instead of medication for behavior issues. (I hated thinking of medicating my sons because they couldn’t sit still.) It is like night and day when he has it on he concentrates better and he is much calmer. My older son who was diagnosed with ADHD also uses a weighted vest that we bought. It is interesting you all use metal shots I am afraid that my children will end up getting into the weights and hurting themselves (they both have oral motor issues). So we went with rice bags inside vaccumed packed bags for weights. I have also put 2 lb ankle weights inside my younger sons harness pocket for when we go out and he doesn’t want his vest but still wants pressure. They both use it when they can’t calm themselves easily and are hyper we even have the weighted blanket (with polly pellets) that helps them sleep through the night. Before my younger son was waking up every 3 hours to come to mommy in the middle of the night to be squished. I admit I only came to the weighted products when not only my OT suggested it but my PT as well because my son was toe walking. It is wonderful in getting the children to bed with it. My son also used to walk around the Los Angeles Zoo all day and not be tired at 10 at night. We call it the magical vest… with so many reasons to wear it why wouldn’t we get it on all of our kids.

    • Tim
      September 12, 2009

      Lisa – those removable weight inserts in those ankle weights contain something that looks kinda like really dark sand, except it’s finer than sand, almost like talc but not quite. I assume this is to allow it to pack as tightly as possible. We tried play sand, but it wasn’t fine or dense enough to make enough weight without being way too bulky.

      I have no idea where one would buy just that stuff on its own. We cut open the weight packets, poured the sandy/talc-y stuff into ziploc snack bags (weighed out using a kitchen digital scale to make sure they were all the same weight), put the snack bags into fabric pouches Mary’s mom made, and then sewed those up. This was the only filler we could find to make 1/2-lb weights for the vest that were small enough to both fit in the vest pockets and not make the thing really bulky, which was the problem with everything else we tried.

      We made some other mods to the vest that hopefully I’ll get around to writing up at some point. Just so far behind around here! But we think we’ve improved this particular design about as well as we can.

      I do think some kids ultimately need some level of medication help – perhaps just for a short time, perhaps not – but I also think on the whole we likely overmedicate them for things where there are better approaches. Every kid is different and has to be evaluated that way to find the approach that’s best for them. Ours has been to look at medication as something to ponder when everything else has been exhausted, and we don’t think we’re there. But I know some families where medication has been the difference between some progress with the meds and a nightmare without them.

      That’s why we share information like this! Collectively we can more readily find out what’s best for our kids than we can on our own!

  8. Mary
    September 2, 2009


    we ended up not using shot after all. I bought another set of ankle weights, only the 10lb set this time. Each little bag of removable weights were 1 lb each, and they were only a smidgen bigger than the 1/2 lb bags were from the 5lb set. We cut the bag open and measured out 1/2 lb (ish) of the weight-dust stuff (technical term there) using a digital scale, then put it into a snack sized ziptop baggie, and then put that into a cloth pouch and sewed it shut. (When I say “we” I mean my mom!) That made the weights much more compact this time.

    Yeah, I too was wary of the idea of the weighted vests, but have been really pleased with the results!

  9. JoyMama
    November 16, 2010

    Just linked back to this post from a new post over at Elvis Sightings — we’ve found a fishing vest that comes in sizes from toddler through adult and makes an even classier do-it-yourself weighted vest than the swim vest did! It looks like a real piece of clothing and has a bunch of pockets for the weight. Love to have new options! (Wondering if the vest is still in J-Man’s sensory tool kit? Has he outgrown the initial vests?)

  10. Tim
    November 21, 2010

    @JoyMama – Great idea with the fishing vest! How’s it working with that pocket in the back? We designed ours with the exact same pockets front and back since everyone make a point to tell us the weight had to be distributed symmetrically. We might have been over-exact with it. I don’t know how strict one has to be with that.

    A weighted vest is still on J’s IEP, but we haven’t used it in a long while. He doesn’t much care for shirts in general, so a vest just isn’t on his agenda. He doesn’t seem to need it right now, but we’ll try again if the need arises. Thanks again for the vest idea!

  11. JoyMama
    November 24, 2010

    Good point about the distribution of weight. We did pay some attention to that — put the bulkier/lighter beanbags in front, and the denser/flatter door hinges in the back pocket. The entire endeavor, while I am in full agreement about working under the supervision of an OT, seems to be a little thin on evidence base… I don’t think anyone really knows how strict is too strict. We may have erred on the side of not-strict-enough.

    So interesting to see the progression in a year and a half from “we love our weighted vest!” to “just isn’t on his agenda.” Things ebb and flow like that, don’t they?!

  12. Jean
    June 25, 2013

    After reading what you have tried for weights I thought I would let you know what I have used and really like the out come.
    If I could send you a picture I would. I have made my grand-daughter a weighted blanket and lap pad. I am not going to make her a weighted vest.
    I am not really a sewer but decided I know enough to do this kind of thing. To purchase these products is expensive and not that cute. Being a little girl we want her to have the same kind of cute things as her sisters.
    So after looking every where in craft stores and on line and reading testimonies like yours I ended up at the dollar store and bought glass beads. There tiny and feel like what bean bag stuffed animals feel like. The products are washable so that’s nice.
    Be blessed !

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