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How to Make a Child's Weighted Vest

Updated April 17, 2017

Children can suffer from a pair of sensory processing disorders that affect their ability to move properly. A child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) does not register sensory information such as visual cues via the brain's usual neural pathways, while the brain of a child with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID or DSI) cannot process the sensory input it receives. These children often, though not always consciously, distract themselves by chewing on shirts or stomping. A weighted vest can provide continual sensory input and feedback that enables a child to consciously recognise and correct how his or her body is moving.

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  1. Cut the sleeves off the jacket with scissors. Trim away any frayed threads. If using a vest, skip to Step 2.

  2. Mark off eight four-inch by four-inch sections on the fabric with the measuring tape and chalk. Cut the fabric into these sections with the scissors. These sections will become the inside pockets of the weighted vest.

  3. Iron the wrinkles out of all eight sections of fabric.

  4. Sew a lip into each of the eight four-inch by four-inch sections of fabric. Fold a half-inch of one side of each section over, hold it in place with pins and use the needle and thread to sew it into a lip for each pocket. This lip will keep the fabric from fraying at the pocket's opening.

  5. Sew a quarter-inch hem into the remaining three sides of each piece of fabric. Fold a quarter-inch of each side over, hold it in place with pins and use the needle and thread to sew the hem.

  6. Turn the vest inside out and mark the locations for the pockets with the chalk, four on the back of the vest, and two on each of the front fold. Space these evenly on the back; on the front, set one pocket an inch or two above the waistline and the other at chest level, depending on the size of the vest.

  7. Pin one of the fabric sections to one of the pocket locations, with the folded lip of the pocket and hems hidden against the jacket. Sew it along all three hemlines with the needle and thread, leaving the pocket lip unsewn. Remove the pins when you finish sewing the pocket to the inside of the vest.

  8. Repeat Step 8 for the remaining fabric sections. Turn the vest right-side out.

  9. Take eight plastic sandwich bags and fill each with a handful of modelling clay. Zip the bags shut and then mould the clay inside the bag into a square shape that will fit inside the pocket.

  10. Place one of the clay-filled bags into each of the eight pockets.

  11. Tip

    Construct the vest out of a jacket that your child picks out, such as a jeans jacket. Letting the child pick out the vest's material, colours and style will help him or her feel more comfortable wearing it. Also, a vest made from a jacket will not look like an occupational therapy product. You can shop for cheap jackets at stores such as Goodwill. When selecting the fabric to use for the pockets, pick material that matches the colour of the vest, as this will make the vest further resemble a typical piece of clothing. Pick thread that matches the colour of the fabric.

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Things You'll Need

  • Jacket or vest
  • Fabric
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk
  • Iron
  • Pins
  • Plastic sandwich bags
  • Modelling clay

About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.

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