Sensory overload is something that we all experience to a degree, but those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often also have sensory processing challenges. This means individuals with ASD tend to be more easily and heavily impacted by their sensory surroundings. Thankfully, there are lots of great tools and solutions to provide relief!
Proprioception is to sense where your own body is within space without the use of other senses such as sight or touch to help. Often called the “position sense,” it is usually an unconscious feeling or state of awareness. Rarely, if ever, do we have to consciously think about whether our legs are crossed or where our hands are. For instance, if you walk in total darkness and do not fall over, you have proprioception to thank!
The vestibular system oversees coordinating movement and balance based on the position of our heads. It’s what allows you to close your eyes, tilt your head, and continue to know which way you are facing. – it is no doubt an integral part of our existence that many of us are unaware of on a daily basis.
Some individuals can be either hyper- or hypo-sensitive (over or under-sensitive). Those with hypersensitive vestibular systems are usually wary of ordinary movements, such as standing up too quickly, as they can trigger an imbalance in the body. Individuals with hyposensitive vestibular systems are constantly searching for movements to fill the absence. As a result, they may seem to be hyperactive, fidgety, or simply overflowing with energy at all times.
What is Deep Pressure Therapy and how can it help?
There are many solutions available to help those with proprioception and vestibular challenges. Deep Pressure Therapy is a sensory solution that provides proprioceptive and vestibular input by applying surface pressure to the body to create the feeling of a firm hug. The user can experience improved balance, body and spatial awareness, and coordination. It has also shown to reduce stress hormones in our bodies, reduce anxiety, and increase our happiness hormone to help the brain find its balance.
Snug Vest: a fantastic Deep Pressure solution
Snug Vest by Wearable Therapeutics is an incredible way to receive the Deep Pressure Therapy on the go. Pressure is evenly distributed throughout the sides, shoulders, and back of the torso to give a hug-like squeeze. The firm pressure to the torso helps to relieve anxiety, as well as increase focus and attention. Snug Vest inflates easily with an attachable hand pump, and the adjustable pressure can be tailored to the exact amount user needs for that “just right” input. It was designed to be fashionable and discreet to promote community inclusion, so it can be worn almost anywhere, any time.
Clinical research: Alpha & Beta trials for Snug Vest
In 2014, researchers at the psychology department of the University of Victoria conducted a study on the effects of Snug Vest on anxiety and behavior in seven children with ASD. The researchers found a significant interaction between treatment and time point for parents’ subjective ratings of attention and for salivary cortisol levels, as well as a significant effect of the vest on naïve coders’ ratings of problem behaviors.
A further beta trial study was conducted in which 15 children with ASD and/or SPD used Snug Vest in home, clinic, or school-based settings for one month. The data collected showed an overall decrease in anxiety, tantrums, meltdowns, and tactile defensiveness throughout the month as reported by the parents or caretakers, and an increase in positive emotions/ feelings directly after the vest was inflated, reported by the children. Click here for more info on the Snug Vest clinical trials.